Military Sealift Command's large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ship, or LMSR, program significantly expands the nation's sealift capability for the new millennium. LMSRs have been the primary movers of U.S. military equipment during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
MSC's LMSR fleet consists of nineteen U.S. government-owned, noncombatant ships that were built or converted at U.S. shipyards. The LMSRs offset the shortage of militarily useful cargo ships available in the commercial sector - a growing concern as U.S. forces overseas depend increasingly on power projection "Forward ... From the Sea."
Most LMSRs are named for Medal of Honor recipients. The exceptions are USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR 300) - named in honor of entertainer Bob Hope - and USNS Fisher (T-AKR 301) - named for philanthropists Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, who committed their lives to improving the quality of life for members of the U.S. armed forces.
LMSR Ship Classes:
Bob Hope-class ships were built by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems' Avondale Operations in New Orleans, La., and delivered to the Navy between 1998 and 2003.
- USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR 300)
- USNS Fisher (T-AKR 301)
- USNS Seay (T-AKR 302)
- USNS Mendonca (T-AKR 303)
- USNS Pililaau (T-AKR 304)
- USNS Brittin (T-AKR 305)
- USNS Benavidez (T-AKR 306)
Watson-class ships were built by National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego, Calif., and delivered from 1998 to 2002.
- USNS Watson (T-AKR 310)
- USNS Sisler (T-AKR 311)
- USNS Dahl (T-AKR 312)
- USNS Red Cloud (T-AKR 313)
- USNS Charlton (T-AKR 314)
- USNS Watkins (T-AKR 315)
- USNS Pomeroy (T-AKR 316)
- USNS Soderman (T-AKR 317)
Gordon-class ships were container ships that were converted by Newport News Shipbuilding to make them ideal for the loading, transporting and unloading of U.S. Army combat equipment and combat support equipment. The ships were delivered to the Navy in 1996 and 1997.
- USNS Gordon (T-AKR 296)
- USNS Gilliland (T-AKR 298)
Shughart-class ships were container ships that were converted by National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. and delivered in 1996 and 1997.
- USNS Shughart (T-AKR 295)
- USNS Yano (T-AKR 297)
The eight LMSRs dedicated to prepositioning can carry enough ammunition, food, water, fuel, equipment and other supplies to sustain up to 20,000 troops of an Army 2x2 heavy armored brigade for up to 15 days. These ships preposition U.S. Army equipment and supplies principally in the Indian Ocean.
Eleven LMSRs are ordinarily kept in reduced operating status, ready to be activated for surge sealift. They have a cadre crew of personnel, which maintain the ships and keep the propulsion systems in a high state of readiness. When ordered to activate, the ships can be fully crewed and ready to sail in four days.
- Each LMSR can carry an entire U.S. Army Task Force, including 58 tanks, 48 other tracked vehicles, as well as more than 900 trucks and other wheeled vehicles.
- The LMSRs are each crewed by approximately 30 civilian mariners who work for private companies under contract to the Military Sealift Command.
- The ships support both combat and humanitarian missions.
- Bob Hope-class, Watson-class and Shughart-class ships each have a cargo-carrying capacity of more than 300,000 square feet, equivalent to more than five football fields.
- Each LMSR has a slewing stern ramp and a removable ramp that services two side ports, making it easy to drive vehicles on and off the ship.
- Interior ramps allow easy traffic flow between decks.
- Two single pedestal twin cranes which can jointly lift 110-tons make loading and off-loading possible where shoreside infrastructure is limited or nonexistent.
- A helicopter deck allows for emergency landings.
The congressionally-mandated Mobility Requirements Study of 1992 focused on Department of Defense transportation during the first Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s. The study highlighted the urgent need for greater sealift capacity during wartime and other national contingencies.
In response to the sealift shortfall, an ambitious strategic sealift acquisition program was introduced. Beginning in the late 1990s, the program added 19 LMSRs that provide five million square feet of sealift and afloat prepositioning capacity.
All 19 LMSRs have been prime movers in the global war on terrorism, moving a total of 32,095,817.77 square feet of military cargo to deployed U.S. forces since Sept. 11, 2001.