Military Sealift Command's 15 Service Support ships provide the Navy with towing, rescue and salvage, submarine support and cable laying and repair services, as well as a command and control platform and floating medical facilities.
All Service Support ships are government owned and crewed by civil service mariners.
USS Frank Cable, USS Emory S. Land, USS Mount Whitney, and USS Ponce have combined crews of civil service mariners and uniformed Navy personnel working under the leadership of a U.S. Navy Captain.
|MSC fleet ocean tug USNS Navajo tows former amphibious assault ship USS Belleau Wood out to open waters for sinking as part of a Navy exercise.|
Fleet Ocean Tugs
MSC's fleet ocean tugs are USNS Catawba, USNS Navajo, USNS Sioux and USNS Apache. These ships provide the Navy fleet with towing service and can tow Navy vessels as large as battleships. When augmented by Navy divers, fleet ocean tugs assist in the recovery of downed aircraft and stranded or grounded ships. In addition, when carrying specialized equipment, the fleet ocean tugs can also perform submarine rescue operations.
Rescue and Salvage Ships
MSC's four rescue and salvage ships recover objects from the sea, tow or debeach stranded vessels and provide firefighting assistance. These ships, USNS Safeguard, USNS Grasp, USNS Salvor and USNS Grapple, like fleet ocean tugs, are able to lift objects as heavy as downed aircraft and stranded or grounded ships. The key advantage of these ships is their ability to rapidly deploy divers to conduct rescue and salvage operations.
|MSC hospital ship USNS Comfort conducts humanitarian assistance operations off Haiti.|
MSC's Surface Support program operates the Navy's two hospital ships, USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort, each containing 12 operating rooms and up to 1,000 beds. The ships are normally kept pierside in reduced operating status, each with a small contingent of MSC civil service mariners and Navy hospital personnel aboard to ensure the ships are ready should they be needed. When called into action, they can get underway in five days with an expanded crew of more than 60 civil service mariners and an expanded medical staff of up to approximately 1,200 military medical personnel.
|MSCís USNS Zeus is the only active cable laying/repair ship in the U.S. Navy.|
Cable Laying/Repair Ship
MSC operates one cable laying/repair ship that transports, deploys, retrieves and repairs undersea cables. Built specifically for the Navy, USNS Zeus can lay up to 1,000 miles of cable in depths up to 9,000 feet during a single deployment before having to restock its cable supply.
|Submarine tender USS Emory S. Land passing the USS Arizona Memorial.|
Submarine tenders USS Emory S. Land and USS Frank Cable transferred to MSC in 2008 and 2010, respectively. Sub tenders, like command ships, are unique in that they have both uniformed Navy personnel and civil service mariners serving under the leadership of a U.S. Navy captain, which allows the ships to retain their commissioned status.
|Command ship USS Mount Whitney and Russian navy landing ship Kaliningrad maneuver in the Baltic Sea during an exercise.|
The Service Support Program operates command ship USS Mount Whitney, which transferred to MSC in 2004 and deployed to the Mediterranean Sea as the U.S. Navy's 6th Fleet command ship. Civil service mariners perform navigation, deck, engineering, laundry and galley service operations while military personnel aboard support communications, weapons systems and security.
Go to the Service Support ship inventory