n 2003, Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force ships were an effective force in Operation Enduring Freedom, the global war on terrorism. Hospital ship USNS Comfort was activated for five months in support of both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, the war in Iraq, rendering medical treatment to U.S. and coalition forces and Iraqi civilians and prisoners of war. NFAF ships pumped more than 117 million gallons of ship propulsion fuel to U.S. Navy and coalition surface combatants in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Overall in Operation Enduring Freedom, MSC NFAF replenishment ships have supplied 374 million gallons of aviation, vehicle and ship propulsion fuel to customers around the globe.
Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force Ships - 36
(as of Sept. 30, 2003)
Fleet Oilers - 14
USNS Big Horn (T-AO 198)
USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO 193)
USNS John Ericsson (T-AO 194)
USNS Leroy Grumman (T-AO 195)
USNS Guadalupe (T-AO 200)
USNS Kanawha (T-AO 196)
USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187) ROS-30**
USNS Laramie (T-AO 203)
USNS John Lenthall (T-AO 189)
USNS Patuxent (T-AO 201)
USNS Pecos (T-AO 197)
USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204)
USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO 199)
USNS Yukon (T-AO 202)
Ammunition Ships - 6
USNS Flint (T-AE 32)
USNS Kilauea (T-AE 26)*
USNS Kiska (T-AE 35)
USNS Mount Baker (T-AE 34)
USNS Santa Barbara (T-AE 28) ROS-45**
USNS Shasta (T-AE 33)
Combat Stores Ships - 6
USNS Concord (T-AFS 5)
USNS Niagara Falls (T-AFS 3)
USNS San Jose (T-AFS 7)
USNS Saturn (T-AFS 10)
USNS Sirius (T-AFS 8)
USNS Spica (T-AFS 9)
Fleet Ocean Tugs - 5
USNS Apache (T-ATF 172)
USNS Catawba (T-ATF 168)
USNS Mohawk (T-ATF 170)
USNS Navajo (T-ATF 169)
USNS Sioux (T-ATF 171)
Fast Combat Support Ships - 3
USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8)
USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7)
USNS Supply (T-AOE 6)
Hospital Ships - 2
USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) ROS 5**
USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) ROS-5**
*Normally ROS - activated to support
global war on terrorism
**Reduced Operating Status (5 days,
30 days or 45 days)
|Two Military Sealift Command ships pass each other in the calm waters of Souda Bay, Crete, Greece. Combat stores ship USNS Spica (foreground) and hospital ship USNS Comfort display the distinctive blue and gold MSC stack stripes.|
USNS Henry J. Kaiser returned to the NFAF after seven years in MSC’s Prepositioning Program operating as a storage tanker. Kaiser was placed in reduced operating status (ROS-30) in Portland, Ore., but was activated for 30 days in April to meet Navy fleet fuel replenishment needs. USNS John Ericsson showcased fleet oiler capabilities as she conducted 195 underway replenishments, delivering more than 38 million gallons of fuel and 3,700 pallets of cargo to U.S. Navy and coalition ships in the MSC Far East area of responsibility during FY 2003. USNS Guadalupe provided at-sea replenishment services to several U.S. Fifth Fleet submarines in March, a job usually conducted in port by fleet submarine tenders. Guadalupe’s actions saved valuable mission time while the submarines were in a high operations tempo.
|MSC fleet replenishment oiler USNS Patuxent provides fuel to MSC fleet ocean tug USNS Catawba in the Persian Gulf during Operation Iraqi Freedom.|
Five ammunition ships were active in 2003 and efficiently provided several thousand tons of ammunition and other cargo to Navy combatant ships at sea. In February, USNS Kilauea was activated from reduced operating status to participate in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, providing replenishment services for the U.S. Third and Seventh Fleets. Kilauea’s civil service mariner crew was augmented with U.S. Naval Reserve cargo afloat rig teams, or CARTs, for these operations. CARTs operate the replenishment stations that transfer cargo from MSC ships to Navy combatants while underway.
Three U.S. Maritime Administration Ready Reserve Force ships were also activated to provide underway replenishment services. These ships were crewed with commercial mariners and augmented with CART personnel.
|Fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (bottom) sails with aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the Mediterranean Sea. Ammunition ship USNS Mount Baker accompanies them during a simultaneous replenishment. An F-14 Tomcat launches from Truman. Photo by PH2 John Beeman, USN.|
Fast Combat Support Ships
In February, USNS Arctic deployed to the Fifth and Sixth Fleets for the first time since transferring from the U.S. Navy combatant fleet to MSC operation. USNS Rainier transferred to MSC in August 2003, becoming the third ship in the Supply class to transition from USS to USNS status, joining Arctic and USNS Supply.
Combat Stores Ships
|Military Sealift Command combat stores ship USNS San Jose (right) performs an underway vertical replenishment with aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. Photo by PH3 Kittie VandenBosch, USN.|
USNS San Jose was awarded the Navy 2003 Safety Excellence Award for sustained mission success with exemplary safety performance. USNS Concord participated in Operation Sea Cutlass, designed to quickly launch a maritime interception force to interrupt terrorist operations by denying them use of the seas. USNS Spica supported U.S. Sixth Fleet ships during both the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq, while USNS Niagara Falls and USNS Sirius adeptly supported Fifth Fleet ships. USNS Saturn began 2003 supporting Operation Enduring Freedom with Sixth Fleet and ended the year supporting Fifth Fleet and U.S. peacekeeping operations off the coast of Liberia.
During FY 2003, MSC’s contracted commercial helicopter detachment supported Navy operations in the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf. The two-aircraft detachment deployed in turn aboard USNS Spica, USNS Sirius and USNS Saturn. The detachment flew nearly 300 hours, delivering 9,215 tons of cargo, lifting more than 9,200 pallets and transporting almost 150 passengers between MSC combat stores ships and Navy surface combatants in U.S. Fifth and Sixth Fleets with almost zero down time.
|Chartered commercial Super Puma helicopters from Military Sealift Command combat stores ship USNS Spica deliver pallets of supplies to amphibious assualt ship USS Kearsarge on her way home from deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Photo by PH3 Jose E. Ponce, USN.|
While deployed in the Persian Gulf, USNS Catawba was recognized for outstanding salvage operations involving two British helicopters in the North Arabian Sea. USNS Mohawk deployed to the Mediterranean in March to conduct joint dive training exercises with several member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. USNS Sioux conducted salvage operations of a Navy FA-18 Hornet aircraft off the coast of southern California.
|Above: MSC fleet ocean tug USNS Catawba (left) assists in towing a salvage barge into position to help recover a downed helicopter in the Persian Gulf. Divers embarked aboard Catawba also aided in the recovery of the downed aircraft wreckage. Photo by Joe Semon.|
|Right: After departing the harbor at Colon, Panama, the former USS Halsey is positioned by a private tug while connected to MSC fleet ocean tug USNS Mohawk.|
USNS Comfort deployed in January for five months in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The 894-foot ship, one of the largest trauma centers in the nation, was crewed by 61 civil service mariners and nearly 1,200 Navy medical personnel, mostly from the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Comfort’s medical treatment facility had 364 admissions, including 166 members from coalition forces, 60 enemy prisoners of war and 138 Iraqi civilians. Comfort performed 648 surgical procedures, 588 of which were in a 30-day period.
USNS Mercy hosted nearly 300 Navy medical leaders during the Navy Surgeon General’s Exercise in Operational Leadership, a voyage from San Diego to Seattle, in July. Mercy then proceeded to Vancouver, British Columbia, for a three-day “post-disaster” training exercise involving Canadian forces medical staff, provincial health officials, Vancouver’s Urban Search and Rescue Team and other responders likely to be called into action in the event of a major emergency.
|Medical personnel rush a wounded U.S. Marine from the casualty receiving area to the operating room aboard MSC hospital ship USNS Comfort. The ship was deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Photo by PH1 Kevin H. Tierney, USN.|
Awards for Excellence
In 2003, Kevin M. Sorbello, chief engineer on the combat stores ship USNS Niagara Falls, received the Captain Arthur L. Johnson award for inspirational leadership from the U.S. Navy League. Ruben C. Garlejo, deck engineer machinist aboard USNS Niagara Falls, won the Navy League’s Oscar Chappell award for outstanding maritime stewardship. USNS Concord was awarded the United Seaman’s Service Mariners’ Plaque for the ship’s professional response during three at-sea rescues.