MSC 2008 in Review

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Sealift Ships – 28

(as of Sept. 30, 2008)

Tankers – 5
USNS Paul Buck (T-AOT 1122)
USNS Samuel L. Cobb (T-AOT 1123)
USNS Lawrence H. Gianella (T-AOT 1125)
USNS Richard G. Matthiesen (T-AOT 1124)
MV Transpacific*

Dry Cargo Ships – 4
MV American Tern (T-AK 4729)*
MV Baffin Strait (T-AK 9519)*
MV Megan Beyel/Mobro 1210*
MV Virginian (T-AK 9205)*

Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-On/
   Roll-Off Ships – 11

USNS Benavidez (T-AKR 306)
USNS Brittin (T-AKR 305)
USNS Fisher (T-AKR 301)
USNS Gilliland (T-AKR 298)
USNS Gordon (T-AKR 296)
USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR 300)
USNS Mendonca (T-AKR 303)
USNS Pililaau (T-AKR 304)
USNS Seay (T-AKR 302)
USNS Shughart (T-AKR 295)
USNS Yano (T-AKR 297)

Fast Sealift Ships – 8
USNS Algol (T-AKR 287)**
USNS Altair (T-AKR 291)**
USNS Antares (T-AKR 294)**
USNS Bellatrix (T-AKR 288)**
USNS Capella (T-AKR 293)**
USNS Denebola (T-AKR 289)**
USNS Pollux (T-AKR 290)**
USNS Regulus (T-AKR 292)**

*Long-term charter
**Transfer to RRF in October 2008

SC's Sealift Program delivers the combat and other military cargo needed by U.S. war fighters around the globe wherever and whenever needed. In FY 2008, the program supported Operation Iraqi Freedom, the global war on terrorism, military exercises and other day-to-day missions for the DOD worldwide.

The Sealift Program operated 28 government-owned and long-term charter, dry cargo ships and tankers, as well as additional short-term or voyage-chartered ships. Also, the program had access to 44 ships of the RRF, which are maintained in reduced operating status at ports in the United States and come under MSC operational control when they are activated. These government-owned ships offset the shortage of militarily useful cargo ships in the U.S. commercial sector. By 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.

MV American Tern
MSC-chartered dry cargo ship MV American Tern leaves McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, escorted by a Swedish icebreaker.


In FY 2008, MSC tankers moved 1.8 billion gallons of fuel for the DOD. Four government-owned tankers, one long-term charter tanker and 46 short-term charter tankers made a total of 228 voyages, delivering fuel to U.S. forces at various locations around the world. The majority of the fuel was carried by four government-owned T-5 tankers and MV Transpacific, a small, 30,000-barrel-capacity U.S.-flagged chartered ship operating in the Japan/Korea area. Nearly 70 percent of all the voyages were made on U.S.-flagged ships that carried 61 percent of all DOD fuel moved.

MSC tankers also moved fuel to support annual operations in Thule Air Base, Greenland, and McMurdo Station, Antarctica. These missions were performed in extreme climates and provided the only fuel that those locations were able to receive during the year.

Dry Cargo Ships

During FY 2008, MSC operated a variety of dry cargo ships as they moved combat equipment and ammunition for U.S. force rotations in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the global war on terrorism. Twenty dry cargo ships, a mixture of chartered commercial ships and government-owned ships, delivered more than 5.6 million square feet of cargo for the war effort.

In addition, MSC dry cargo ships supported exercises around the globe such as Cobra Gold in Thailand and the New Horizons series in Central America. See the exercise table in the appendix for more details.

MSC dry cargo ships supported the delivery of supplies and material to the National Science Foundation base at McMurdo, Antarctica, and Thule Air Base, Greenland. MSC has been supporting these missions for more than 50 years.

Mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles
Mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs, are lashed to the deck plate of MSC large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ship USNS Pililaau in Kuwait. More than 200 MRAPs from Pililaau were on their way to Iraq and Afghanistan. Photo by MC2 Kelvin Surgener.

Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-On/Roll-Off Ships

Eleven surge sealift LMSRs delivered DOD cargo to U.S. forces during FY 2008. These surge LMSRs are normally maintained pierside in a reduced operating status, able to sail within four days of receiving an activation order. The ships are berthed at strategic ports on the U.S. East, West and Gulf coasts. Surge LMSRs are especially suited for transporting heavy, armored or out-sized unit equipment such as tanks; mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles; up-armored Humvees; and helicopters.

During the year, nine activated surge LMSRs delivered almost 3.5 million square feet of cargo in 23 voyages to meet the U.S. military's worldwide cargo requirements primarily in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This was 73 percent of the total dry cargo carried by all MSC government-owned and chartered ships.

Fast Sealift Ships

Eight fast sealift ships, or FSS, were reserved for time-sensitive deployments. These steam-powered ships are capable of sailing from the U.S. East Coast to the Persian Gulf in 15 days. In FY 2008, USNS Algol moved nearly 100,000 square feet of Marine Corps cargo in a rapid Operation Iraqi Freedom lift, then brought return cargo back to the United States. Effective Oct. 1, 2008, all eight FSS will transfer to the RRF, losing their United States Naval Ship designation and their black, gray, blue and gold stack stripes.

SS Gopher State
Ready Reserve Force crane ship SS Gopher State loads shipping containers holding yellowcake uranium as part of a DOD transfer of hundreds of tons of the material out of Iraq.

Ready Reserve Force - 44*

(as of Sept. 30, 2008)

RO/RO Ships
Crane Ships
Break-Bulk Ships
Seabee Ships
OPDS Tankers
Aviation Logistics Support Ships

*Two aviation logistics support ships and a break-bulk ship are also counted in the Prepositioning Program.

Ready Reserve Force Ships

The RRF included 44 militarily useful ships, including roll-on/roll-off ships; crane ships; break-bulk ships; lighterage-aboard ships, or LASH; Seabee ships; offshore petroleum discharge system, or OPDS, tankers; and aviation logistics support ships. The aviation logistics support ships and one break-bulk ship are assigned to the Prepositioning Program. All 27 of the roll-on/roll-off ships were maintained in five-day reduced operating status with 10-person crews aboard. The remainder of the RRF ships can take up to 10 days to fully activate. RRF ships are crewed by private companies under contract to the Maritime Administration but come under MSC's operational control when activated. The ships are berthed on the U.S. East, West and Gulf coasts near potential military load sites. In FY 2008, MV Cape Vincent, MV Cape Knox and SS Gopher State were activated and moved a total of 372,000 square feet of cargo in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.