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|MSCís Sealift ships unload cargo for Operation Iraqi Freedom in the port of Ash Shuaybah, Kuwait.|
Military Sealift Command's Sealift Program provides high-quality, efficient and cost-effective ocean transportation for the Department of Defense and other federal agencies during peacetime and war. More than 90 percent of U.S. war fighters' equipment and supplies travels by sea. The program manages a mix of government-owned and long-term-chartered dry cargo ships and tankers, as well as additional short-term or voyage-chartered ships. By DOD policy, MSC must first look to the U.S - flagged market to meet its sealift requirements. Government-owned ships are used only when suitable U.S.-flagged commercial ships are unavailable.
|MSC-chartered tanker MT Empire State. General Dynamics NASSCO photo|
MSC's tanker fleet comprises three U.S. flagged commercial tankers under long-term charter to MSC that transport refined petroleum products for the Department of Defense, primarily between commercial refineries and DOD storage and distribution facilities worldwide.
MSC's tankers also perform unique missions such as refueling the National Science Foundation's McMurdo Station in Antarctica and the U.S. Air Force early warning station at Thule Air Base, Greenland.
The newly built MT Empire State and MT Evergreen State have double hulls and has the ability to transfer fuel to Navy auxiliary ships at sea if needed. MT Maersk Peary has this capability and is also ice-strengthened for polar missions.
When more fuel-carrying capacity is required, MSC charters additional tankers directly from the commercial market on a short-term basis. This gives MSC the flexibility to meet rapidly changing military requirements at the lowest possible cost.
Approximately 85 percent of all fuel transported by sea for DOD is carried by MSC's tankers.
MSC coordinates fuel lift requirements with Defense Logistics Agency - Energy, which procures and manages fuel for all of DOD and ensures efficient and cost-effective transportation of more than 1.5 billion gallons of fuel annually.
|The gray hull of mine countermeasures ship USS Gladiator rests on specially constructed supports on the deck of black- and white-hulled Condock V, an MSC-chartered heavy-lift vessel. Gladiator was loaded onto Condock V in a process called "float-on," which is used for cargo too large to lift by crane.|
Dry Cargo Ships
Nearly all peacetime DOD cargo is carried by U.S.-flagged commercial ships. But during wartime or other contingencies, MSC has the flexibility to charter ships to move cargo as needed.
MSC can expand beyond this commercial capability by activating ships from its government-owned surge fleet, including Navy-owned large, medium speed, roll-on/roll/off ships and Ready Reserve Force ships from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration.
Most DOD cargo is transported in containers aboard regularly scheduled U.S. commercial liners. The liner service contracts are awarded by the U.S. Transportation Command while the movement of the cargo is coordinated by the U.S. Army's Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.
|MSC-chartered ship MV American Tern sails to Antarctica to deliver supplies to the National Science Foundationís McMurdo Station. MSC has participated in the annual resupply operation for more than half a century.|
MSC's dry cargo ships carry items that are too large to fit in containers, such as engineering and construction equipment, military vehicles, aircraft and ammunition. MSC's responsibility is to ensure that its cargo ships are loaded to capacity whenever possible, moving the maximum amount of cargo at the lowest possible cost. MSC looks for opportunities to combine missions, thus splitting costs among mission sponsors.
While MSC's dry cargo ships continue to deploy and redeploy large volumes of equipment used by U.S. forces for operations New Dawn and Enduring Freedom, the ships also carry supplies and equipment for various worldwide exercises.
Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-On/Roll-Off Ships
|U.S. Army Strykers are off-loaded from MSC large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ship USNS Mendonca in Bremerhaven, Germany.|
A robust and responsive surge sealift fleet is critical to the national security strategy. The ability to quickly move U.S. forces and military equipment enables the United States to defend and promote vital interests anywhere in the world. A key part of MSC's surge sealift fleet includes nine government-owned, contractor-operated LMSRs that support the U.S. military in times of peace or war.
Each LMSR is capable of lifting more than 300,000 square feet of cargo and can travel at up to 24 knots. Each ship is capable of carrying the equipment requirements of an Army air assault or armored battalion of 1,000 soldiers.
LMSRs are ideal for carrying heavy armored vehicles and equipment used by the U.S. military. Each LMSR has a slewing stern ramp and a movable ramp that services two side ports, making it easy to drive vehicles on and off the ship.
Interior ramps between the decks ease the traffic flow once rolling cargo is loaded aboard ship. Cargo can also be loaded onto LMSRs by shipboard cranes. In addition, the ships are capable of off-loading cargo onto floating barges, or lighterage, while in ports that have been damaged or do not possess cargo cranes.
|Large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ship USNS Mendonca offloads cargo at anchorage off the coast of Virginia Beach, Va., during a joint logistics over the shore exercise.|
The LMSRs are ordinarily kept pierside in reduced operating status, with small crews aboard to maintain the ships in the highest state of readiness, capable of being fully activated, crewed and ready to depart their U.S. layberths in four days.
The Ready Reserve Force
|Ready Reserve Force crane ship SS Flickertail State off-loads cargo in Haiti.|
With a shrinking U.S. merchant fleet, the importance of ready and available surge vessels increases each year. 48 Ready Reserve Force ships owned and maintained by the Maritime Administration provide a resource to offset the shortage of militarily useful U.S.-flagged ships.
The RRF consists of fast sealift ships, roll-on/roll-off ships, lighter aboard ships, heavy lift ships, crane ships and government-owned tankers. Maintained in four-, five-, 10- or 20-day readiness status, these ships are activated when needed, fully crewed and placed under the operational control of MSC in support of U.S. wartime, humanitarian and disaster-relief operations.
RRF ships are also used for military exercises. Most of the RRF's rollon/ roll-off ships are maintained in a five-day readiness status, each with a nine-person crew aboard. RRF ships are maintained by MARAD at ports around the U.S. East, Gulf and West coasts in close proximity to potential military loading sites.
Sealift Ships: Keeping U.S. War Fighters Combat Ready
As the U.S. military continues to meet its global challenges in years to come, the ships of MSC's Sealift Program, both government-owned and chartered, will continue to provide efficient, effective, reliable transportation to DOD and other U.S. government agencies. Throughout the global war on terrorism, MSC's impressive sealift ships have kept the supply lines flowing continuously to keep the nation's deployed forces combat ready. Whether in wartime or peacetime, MSC's sea transportation team delivers.
Go to the Sealift Program ship inventory