Military Sealift Command Public Affairs
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February 20, 2009
Civilians, Sailors Embody Navy Ethos During Counterpiracy Mission
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW/SW) Monique K. Hilley
USNS LEWIS AND CLARK, At Sea (NNS) -- Civil service mariners aboard USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1) responsible for the safe operation and navigation of the ship in her duties as a staging platform for counterpiracy operations are working closely with Navy Sailors to accomplish the mission.
This partnership embodies the Navy Ethos.
"The integration of the civilian mariners and embarked Navy and Marine Corps units has been extremely smooth," said Capt. Bill McCarthy, master, USNS Lewis and Clark. "The Navy Ethos highlights the fact that we are professional Sailors and civilians. On board Lewis and Clark right now, we have a very diverse and agile force conducting the counterpiracy mission."
Lewis and Clark joined Combined Task Force (CTF) 151 Feb 4. CTF 151 is the multinational task force conducting counterpiracy operations to detect and deter piracy in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Red Sea. It was established to create a lawful maritime order and develop security in the maritime environment.
"Each Sailor and civilian knows his or her responsibility and is working closely together to ensure safe and effective mission accomplishment," added McCarthy. "Each day, we learn more about one another and our capabilities to enhance our interoperability."
Lewis and Clark's support of CTF-151 anti-piracy operations as related to the broader role of noncombatant ships in the U.S. Navy is nothing new. U.S. merchant mariners have a long and storied history of providing direct support to U.S. military operations around the globe. From resupplying Navy ships at sea to delivering combat cargo to deployed troops in war zones, mariners have played an integral logistics support role in U.S. military operations for centuries.
"The Military Sealift Command and the U.S. Navy have a strong heritage of working together," said McCarthy.
"Although the counterpiracy mission may be new to some of us, civilian mariners and active-duty Sailors working together as part of military operations is not new."
Lewis and Clark possesses the necessary capabilities to launch aircraft, house suspected pirates and provide afloat staging support for CTF-151's current mission.
The ship is one of six dry cargo and ammunition ships currently operated by Military Sealift Command. These ships are the newest logistics vessels in the fleet and provide underway replenishment of food, ammunition, fuel and other supplies to U.S. Navy and coalition ships at sea.
The Earle, N.J.-based vessel is the lead ship in the Lewis and Clark-class of T-AKEs. She was christened May 21, 2005. The ship was delivered to Military Sealift Command June 20, 2006.
A crew of 125 U.S. civil service mariners and 10 U.S. Navy Sailors make up the current crew of Lewis and Clark. U.S. merchant mariners employed by Military Sealift Command operate the Navy's fleet of noncombatant logistics ships, including the T-AKEs.
Military Sealift Command operates approximately 110 noncombatant civilian-crewed ships. These ships move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners around the world.
"Together, we are all working to maintain security and stability in the maritime environment so legitimate trade and commerce can continue to safely transit this very important corridor," said McCarthy.
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