Sealift Program

Sealift Program (PM5)
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Our Sealift Program (PM5) 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. By DOD policy, MSC must first look to the U.S - flagged market to meet customer sealift requirements. Government-owned ships are used when suitable U.S.-flagged commercial ships are unavailable.

Ship Types

Air Force ships place ammunition and supplies for their prepositioning program.

Army Prepositioned Stock-3 ships strategically place U.S. Army combat equipment at sea to supply and sustain deployed U.S. troops during national crises. Five of the APS-3 ships are government-owned cargo ships, called large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships, or LMSRs. Each ship has a cargo-carrying capacity of more than 300,000 square feet.

LMSRs are ideal for the rapid loading and off-loading of Army wheeled and tracked vehicles, as well as other outsized Army equipment. A series of internal and external ramps makes this possible, and shipboard cranes allow cargo to be lifted without relying on local port infrastructure. In addition to LMSRs, APS-3 ships include two container ships that store ammunition at sea for the Army.

With a shrinking U.S. merchant fleet, the importance of ready and available surge vessels increases each year. The Ready Reserve Force, owned and maintained by the Maritime Administration, provides 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 some military exercises.