MSC PAO 98-46
October 29, 1998
For more information, contact:
Marge Holtz or Lisa Gates
Creative thinking offers stowage solution
Remember playing with finger puzzles as a kid, sliding small squares around to form a design? That concept is precisely what Military Sealift Command officials used to fit four U.S. Army watercrafts -- LCU 2000s -- onto the deck of MV Strong Virginian. The load-out of the Army equipment took place at the British Marchwood Military Base in Hythe near South Hampton, United Kingdom, in early September.
|The bow of an LCU 2000 is brought over the forward port side of Strong Virginian. Once on board, the U.S. Army watercraft is aligned on a skids and rail system that allows deck-mounted winches to fleet the vessel from one side to the other into its stowage position.|
LCU 2000s are 174-feet in length, with a beam of 42 feet and a displacement of 9 feet when fully loaded. They can carry five M1A1 Army tanks or 24 20-foot shipping containers and have a range of 10,000 miles. The LCU 2000s have a crew of 13. In addition, LCU watercraft are key Logistic-Over-the-Shore players and are used to off-load prepositioned cargo from ships at anchor.
The LCU 2000s are originally from Fort Eustis, Va., and were undergoing maintenance at the U.S. Army's Hythe Maintenance Depot Activity where they have been stationed for several months.
|The Military Sealift Command chartered vessel MV Strong Virginian is loaded with four U.S. Army watercrafts, called LCU 2000s, which can be used to off-load preposition cargo from ships at anchor.|
The watercraft will now be used as part of the Army's prepositioning equipment aboard Strong Virginian. The ship is a chartered heavy-lift, roll-on/roll-off prepositioning vessel, operating out of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. In addition to the four LCU 2000s, nearly 150 vehicles and 420,000 gallons of marine diesel fuel for the Army watercraft, were also loaded.
Months before the actual load-out operations began, preparations were made to ready both the Army watercraft and Strong Virginian. Each Army LCU 2000 was fitted with eight special padeyes or attaching points-four welded on each side of the ship's gunnel-to allow cranes to lift them onto Strong Virginian. Lifting the LCU 2000 by the newly welded padeyes versus a belly sling offered a safer lift for the watercraft, whereas using a belly sling could place structural pressure on the watercraft's hull, possibly damaging the steel plates.
|LCU 2000s are 174-foot in length, have a beam of 42 feet and a displacement of 9 feet when fully loaded. They can carry five M1A1 Army tanks or 24 20-foot shipping containers and have a range of 10,000 miles. The LCU 2000s have a crew of 13.|
Meanwhile, Strong Virginian was modified in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Modifications included the installation of a fleeting system, or rail-type skids, that would allow the Army watercraft once on board, to be slid into the proper stowed position. Each LCU 2000 would be set down on the deck at the same location and then slid into its respective position.
Actual loading operations began Sept. 5 in Hythe. Strong Virginian's 800-ton fixed boom and 75-ton gantry cranes were used in tandem to lift each LCU 2000 out of the water and onto the deck. The bow of the Army watercraft came over the forward port side of Strong Virginian first. Before placing the watercraft on the fleeting system, the stern of the watercraft was swung into position, allowing the watercraft to be aligned properly on the rails. Once the watercraft were placed onto the skids and rail system, ship deck mounted winches fleeted them from one side of the ship to the other side and aft into their stowage position.
|A fleeting system, or rail-type skids, allows the Army watercraft once on board the weather deck of MV Strong Virginian to be slid into the proper stowed position.|
|MV Strong Virginian's 800-ton fixed boom and 75-ton gantry cranes were used in tandem to lift each LCU 2000 out of the water and onto the deck.|
After more than a year of planning by U.S. Navy and Army officials, all four LCU 2000s were stowed safely aboard Strong Virginian, ready for the voyage to Diego Garcia.
"The entire loading evolution was unique," said Keith Bauer of MSC's Prepositioning Program who oversaw the loading operation. "This is the first time we've loaded watercraft in this manner."
Strong Virginian is a multipurpose vessel that is providing the Army ready duty afloat prepositioned LCU 2000 watercraft capable of intra-theatre lift to remote or underdeveloped coastlines and inland waterways.
|Stowed from bow to stern on the weather deck of MV Strong Virginian, four LCU 2000s are ready for their voyage from Hythe, United Kingdom, to Diego Garcia.|
Strong Virginian is designed to carry a wide diversity of cargo: heavy lift, containers, rolling stock, general breakbulk cargo and bulk fuel. The ship's optimum size, maneuverability and self-sufficiency increase the number of ports and coastal locations that the ship can enter and operate in.