|U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command
On Oct. 1, 2007, MARAD began operating all eight FSS. The FSS will transfer to the RRF on Oct. 1, 2008, and will lose their USNS designation.
The U.S. Navy owns eight fast sealift ships (T-AKR), which are normally kept in reduced operating status but can fully activate and be underway to load ports within 96 hours.
The FSS are used for the rapid deployment of U.S. military equipment to contingency sites around the world.
When not activated, the ships are layberthed in the following locations:
All eight ships together can lift nearly the equivalent of a full Army mechanized division.
The size of the FSS -- 946 feet long with a beam of 106 feet and with large open bay interiors and roll-on/roll-off ramps -- make them particularly well suited for the transport of tanks, helicopters and other military vehicles and supplies.
FSS are routinely activated to participate in military operations and exercises or to transport supplies for humanitarian missions.
In early 2003 all eight FSS were activated to carry U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps cargo to the Central Command area of operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In February 1999, USNS Antares was activated to carry U.S. Army cargo in support of the NATO peacekeeping mission Operation Joint Guard to the Balkan port of Rijeka, Croatia.
In October 1998, USNS Algol was activated to carry disaster relief supplies and equipment to Puerto Rico and other nearby islands following the aftermath of Hurricane Georges.
In 1994, USNS Antares was called into action to transport equipment and supplies to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where Haitian and Cuban refugees were provided safe haven by U.S. forces.
In 1994, USNS Capella and USNS Denebola worked with NATO forces on convoy exercises in the Mediterranean.
In 1992, during the U.S. humanitarian relief effort in Somalia, six FSS were activated to transport vehicles and equipment to support U.S. forces assigned to Operation Restore Hope/UNOSOM II.
During the Persian Gulf War, the FSS transported more than 14 percent of the military cargo going to the Persian Gulf.
All eight FSS are operated by the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command, the sea transportation provider for the Department of Defense.
Each FSS is crewed by 42 civilian mariners employed by an MSC contractor. Each ship can carry up to 12 U.S. Army personnel, called supercargoes, whose sole duty is to monitor the cargo and ensure it is in operating condition. No active duty Navy personnel are embarked.
The FSS are non-combatants, carry no operable weapons systems and are not weapons platforms.
The FSS were added to the U.S. Navy's inventory in the early 1980s as part of a major sealift enhancement program. They were purchased from private industry as commercial container ships and modified to add roll-on/roll-off ramps, lift capability and decks for helicopters and vehicles.
USNS stands for United States Naval Ship and is used to designate U.S. Navy ships crewed by civilian mariners rather than active duty military personnel.
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