The Achilles Heel Of Our National Strategy: Sealift
SUBJECT AREA Strategic Issues
Title: The Achilles Heel of Our National Strategy: Sealift
Author: Major M. L. Hayes, United States Marine Corps
Thesis: The United States has an insufficient surge sealift capability and
is rapidly approaching an insufficient sustainment sealift capability.
Background: The ability to project our military forces to any theater of
conflict effectively is the only way to assure their credibility and their
ability to act as a deterrent. The conflict in Southwest Asia provided us
with an opportunity to analyze our strategic lift capabilities against just
the type of challenge that strategists see the United States most likely
having to face in the future. Only the ready availability of foreign flag
shipping, the hesitancy of the Iraqis to initiate hostilities, and the unique
characteristics of Saudi Arabia kept our lack of surge sealift capability
from seriously limiting the deployment of U.S. forces.
Recommendation: To solve the deficiencies in surge sealift and prevent a
further decline in sustainment sealift requires a series of actions that
represent a long term balanced approach. These actions would include:
expanding our prepositioned shipping while improving the nature and the
quality of the cargo embarked aboard it; modernizing the power plant of our
Fast Sealift Ships; providing government assistance to revitalize our
merchant marine fleet; stripping the National Defense Reserve fleet of its
obsolete ships, tailoring its future make-up of ships to be more useful in a
crisis; providing a means of rapidly expanding our sealift capability
without depleting the manpower pool of skilled mariners; and maintaining
the Navy's amphibious assault fleet close to its current level.
The Achilles Heel of Our National Strategy: Sealift
Thesis Statement. The United States has an insufficient surge sealift
capability and is rapidly approaching an insufficient sustainment sealift
I. The United States' new national military strategy
A. Requirement to project military forces to any theater of conflict
B. Use of Operation Desert Shield to analyze strategic lift
II. Airlift and sealift requirements in a crisis
2. Summarized performance in SWA
2. Summarized performance in SWA
III. The Military Sealift Command's organization
A. Afloat Prepositioning Force performance in SWA
1. Maritime prepositioning ship program validated
2. Prepo ship program's future potential justifies its expansion
B. Fast Sealift Ships performance in SWA
1. Provides surge sealift for heavy divisions
2. Requires phased reengineering program of ships' power plant
IV. U.S. Merchant Fleet's decline
A. Issues currently being confronted by U.S. shipping companies
B. Government assistance required
1. Deregulation and tax incentives
2. Financial support for construction of new vessels
V. The National Defense Reserve Fleet's organization
A. Ready Reserve Fleet's performance in SWA
1. Inappropriate ship mix for surge sealift requirements
2. Lack of maintenance hindered breakout
B. Naval inactive Fleet not used to support SWA
1. Unrealistic activation windows
2. Sell obsolete ships and earmark revenue to upgrade the NDRF
VI. U.S. Merchant Mariners crucial to any future solutions
A. Active manpower pool unable to support activation of on call ships
B. Establishment of a merchant marine reserve could provide crews
VII. Foreign flag ships essential to meeting surge sealift requirements
A. U.S. sought commitment of allied shipping in early eighties
B. Relying on large numbers of foreign flag ships incurs too much risk
VIII. Future changes to our sealift posture
A. Changes should be based on future force structure
B. Army's base force provides one corps for CONUS power projection
C. Marine Corps' deployable force posture tied to amphibious fleet
l. Projected size of amphibious assault fleet
2. Forward presence mission must be considered
TABLE OF CONTENTS
National Military Strategy 1
Airlift and Sealift Requirements 4
Military Sealift Command 8
Afloat Prepositioning Force 11
Maritime Prepositioning Ships 11
Prepo Ships 12
Fast Sealift Ships 14
U.S. Merchant Marine Fleet 16
National Defense Reserve Fleet 20
U.S. Merchant Mariners 26
Foreign Flag Shipping 29
Future Sealift 33
The Army's Deployable Force Posture 34
The Marine Corps' Deployable Force Posture 34
List of Abbreviations 39
The Achilles Heel of Our National Strategy: Sealift
In an era when threats may emerge with little or no warning, our ability to defend our interests will depend on our speed and our agility. And we will need forces that give us a global reach. No amount of political change will alter the geographic fact that we are separated from many of our most important allies and interests by thousands of miles of water.... We'll have to have air and sealift capacities to get our forces where they are needed, when they are needed. A new emphasis on flexibility and versatility must guide our efforts.
President George Bush
The Aspen Institute
2 August 1990
Regardless of the positive consequences of the revolutions in the
U.S.S.R. and Eastern Europe, we face the sobering truth that local causes of
instability and oppression will continue to foster conflicts, small and
large, virtually across the globe. Our new national military strategy
directs attention away from a global war beginning in Europe, and focuses
our efforts on regional contingencies. However, unless the United States
has a credible force projection capability, regional powers could still be
tempted to threaten U.S. vital interests. The gulf conflict has illustrated
that these regional crises and conflicts are likely to arise on very short
notice, and escalate unpredictably. This will require that we be able to
respond if necessary, very rapidly, often very far from home, and against
increasingly well armed hostile forces. The ability to project our military
forces to any theater of conflict effectively is the only way to assure their
credibility and their ability to act as a deterrent.
Operation Desert Storm was the largest military effort since Vietnam.
It involved each part of the strategic mobility triad that is depicted in
Figure 1. What is more important, for analysis of strategic lift, It was a
test of our capabilities against just the type of challenge that strategists
see the United States most likely having to face in the future.
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STRATEGIC MOBILITY TRIAD
Our deployment to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield officially
started on 7 August 199O.(1) It began from a "cold start"; without the
ninety, sixty, or even. thirty days of warning that military planners project
in most contingency plans. Yet, by 31 December, the Military Sealift
Command had built a figurative steel bridge across the 8,700 miles of
ocean to Saudi Arabia. A total of 179 ships were either en route to Saudi
Arabia from the United States, or returning to the United States from Saudi
Arabia; an average of one ship per fifty miles. (11:30)
During Operation Desert Shield, as in any major deployment, the
strategic sealift mission was divided into two categories, surge shipping
and sustainment shipping. Surge shipping is critical to the rapid build up of
combat power during the initial stages of a deployment. Ships used in
surge shipping must be capable of handling outsized bulky military
vehicles, tanks, helicopters, and unit equipment. Theses forward deployed
forces are then resupplied and maintained by sustainment shipping. The
supplies required to meet daily consumption needs and build reserve stocks
are conducive to being containerized; moreover, this second category of
shipping specializes in transporting containerized cargo.
Despite our sweeping victory in Southwest Asia (SWA), one of the
indisputable facts that the conflict identified was a critical problem in our
power projection capability. Currently the United States has an
insufficient surge sealift capability and is rapidly approaching an
insufficient sustainment sealift capability. What effect did this shortfall
in surge sealift have on the deployment to SWA? What can we do to correct
the deficiencies? What important lessons did we learn in terms of sealift,
and how can we apply them in the future? These are just some of the
questions that this paper will address.
Airlift and Sealift Requirements
Our initial response to a crisis is most likely to come from forward
deployed forces, or airborne forces. Airlift will be used extensively during
the early part of the buildup. This method of transport can provide quick
delivery of personnel and certain key equipment. However, it has a very
limited capacity in its ability to deliver equipment and supplies. One
modern containership can carry as much cargo as can be carried in 150
sorties of the giant C-5 Galaxy transport aircraft. Airlift also quickly
reaches a point of diminishing returns. A good illustration of this was the
U.S. airlift support for Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur war. Six tons of
aviation fuel were required to deliver one ton of cargo to Tel Aviv during
this operation. Even the airlift of aviation ordinance into a theater of war
is not cost effective; for example, the Air Force's main transport aircraft,
the C- 141 can only transport enough ordinance for one 8-52 sortie.
Due to these inherent limitations in airlift, U.S defense planners
anticipate moving as much as 95 percent of the dry cargo, and 99 percent of
the fuel and oil needed to fight a war by sea. In the early days of Operation
Desert Shield, aircraft maintained U.S. supply lines almost exclusively;
however, when the first two fast sealift ships arrived in Saudi Arabia on
27 August, they carried more tonnage than the entire airlift had up to that
point. Table I provides a summary equipment, personnel, and supplies
transported to SWA, and it validates the defense planner's' projections.
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Movement Summary to SWA
as of 10 March l991
*The figures do not include Navy or Marine forces afloat.
One surprising fact contained in the summary is the tonnage of
petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) transported to SWA to support
Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. To the layman it would appear
that we were "carrying coal to Newcastle." However, today's military
equipment requires extraordinary POL support, and a similar crisis in
another part of the world that does not have the indigenous POL supply of
Saudi Arabia would require even more sealift support.
While the airlift segment of our strategic mobility triad performed
extremely well in Operation Desert Shield, the sealift segment had to
overcome several obstacles to accomplish its mission. By comparing the
organizational structure supporting each segment we begin to discover
some of the flaws in our sealift planning.
The airlift portion of our nation's deployment plan is based on:
(1) Active duty military transport aircraft.
(2) Reserve and National Guard aircraft.
(3) Civil Reserve Air Fleet aircraft.
All the aircraft in these three categories are used regularly during
peacetime for transportation of cargo and passengers, and for training
flights. The air crews and ground crews who will operate and maintain
these aircraft in wartime are the same ones who operate and maintain
them in peacetime. Accustomed to working with their aircraft, they can
begin actual deployment and resupply operations almost immediately during
In contrast, the sealift portion of our nation's deployment plan is based
(1) Active duty military vessels.
(2) Chartered U.S. merchant marine fleet vessels.
(3) National Defense Reserve Fleet vessels.
(4) Military and commercial vessels from Allied nations.
The status of the vessels in these categories during peacetime however,
is significantly different from the status of the aircraft discussed earlier,
since many of them are not maintained in a fully operational status. What's
more, the crews who will be required to operate and maintain these vessels
in wartime have not been clearly identified. Consequently, they may lack
familiarity with the vessels' operation. Therefore, to be completely
effective, the sealift portion of our nation's deployment plan requires a
certain amount of lead time before it can be fully employed. As Operation
Desert Shield demonstrated, this lead time is not likely to be available in
The Military Sealitt Command
The Military Sealift Command (MSC) provides the sealift needed to
deploy and sustain U.S. forces overseas. It is organized along functional
lines as depicted in Figure 2.
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Organization of the Military Sealift Command
The Strategic Sealift Force is composed of an Active Force and a
Standby Force. The Active Force consists of handy-size tankers, roll-
on/roll-off (RO-RO) ships, and breakbulk ships that the MSC charters from
U.S. ship-operating companies. It is sized each year to handle the U.S.
military's predicted requirements.(2) The Standby Force consists of ships
that are placed in an on call status. Each ship is assigned a readiness
period ranging from immediate to twenty days.
To accomplish its mission the MSC relies heavily on the U.S. flag
merchant marine fleet. However, in the 1970s, military leaders began to
express concern over the decline in the type of U.S. merchant marine ships
that were capable of handling outsized bulky military vehicles, tanks,
helicopters, and unit equipment. Commercial fleets were phasing out their
breakbulk ships, and replacing them with container ships. Military leaders
feared that the United States would not have access to the types of ships
required during the surge sealift phase of a deployment.
As a result, in the early 1980s, Congress funded a $7 billion Sealift
Enhancement Program with the intent of bolstering the capabilities of the
Strategic Sealift Force. The government purchased or chartered from
private owners, ships that were no longer profitable to operate
commercially but had military utility. This provided the MSC's Strategic
Sealift Force with thirteen maritime prepositioning ships (MPS), twelve
prepositioning ships (prepo ships), eight fast sealift ships (FSS), and two
hospital ships (T-AH).(3) Additionally, the MSC was provided access to the
Department of Transportation's two aviation logistic support ships (T-AVB)
and Ready Reserve Fleet (RRF) of ninety-six militarily useful cargo ships
(See Figure 3).
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* The only ships the Navy actually owns are the FSS and T-AH vessels. The Maritime Administratin owns the RRF and T-AVB vessels, and the MSC leases the remaining vessels in the Strategic Sealift Force from commercial ship companies
Afloat Prepositioning Force
The quickest response to a surge sealift requirement comes from the
twenty-five ships that make up the APF. The first group of ships in the
APF are the thirteen MPS vessels. They are U.S. flag merchant ships that
have been leased by the Navy from commercial ship companies who have had
them specially configured for military cargo.(4) The MSC has organized the
MPS vessels into three squadrons. Each squadron is commanded by a Navy
Captain who is embarked with a small staff; but they are crewed by
merchant mariners.(5) These squadrons are normally forward-deployed:
MPS Squadron One off the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, MPS
Squadron Two off the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, and MPS
Squadron Three off the islands of Guam and Saipan in the Pacific Ocean.
The MPS squadrons each contain the equipment and thirty days worth of
supplies for a Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) of approximately 16,500
personnel. To deploy the Marines and marry them up with a MPS Squadron
requires 249 C-141 equivalent sorties, but it would take about 4,500
sorties to deploy a force of that size without the MPS Squadron.
One of the spectacular success stories of Operation Desert Shield was
the validation of the MPS concept. The four ships of MPS Squadron Two
arrived in Saudi Arabia on 15 August, just ten days after call-up. By the
first week of September all nine of the activated MPS vessels from MPS
Squadrons Two and Three had been off-loaded. During December the MSC
activated the four remaining MPS vessels, and shortly thereafter MPS
Squadron One was also being off-loaded in Saudi Arabia. An additional
benefit realized from the MPS program was the utility of the MPS vessels
after they were off-loaded. Eleven of these ships went into a common user
pool and transported an average of fifteen additional ship loads of cargo to
Saudi Arabia.(6) (13)
The other group of ships in the APF are the twelve prepo ships. For the
most part, these vessels contain two broad categories of cargo for Army,
Air Force, and Navy units.(7) The first category of cargo consists of
common items such as tents, light sets, water trailers, barrier materials,
forklifts, trucks, and heavy equipment transports. The second category
consists of consumables supplies such as rations, ammunition, and POL.
While the cargo on the prepo ships is not tailored to any specific unit, it
does assist in establishing such common functions as port support, airfield
support, medical facilities, laundry and bath facilities, mobile kitchens,
and maintenance shelters.
Like the MPS vessels, all the prepo ships are leased U.S. flag merchant
ships operated by merchant crews. Two of the twelve ships operate
independently in the Mediterranean according to MSC schedules. The other
ten ships are stationed off Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean and operate
under the operational control of the Commodore of MPS Squadron Two.
When these ten were activated they were directed to steam to Saudi Arabia
where they were off-loaded by 6 September. The ships were then placed
into a common user pool where they provided additional sealift for cargo
bound for SWA. Eventually the two remaining prepo ships were also
activated and used to provide support for Operation Desert Shield.
The rapid response of the prepo ships highlights the potential benefits
of the program and its ability to provide critical support to Army and Air
Force units during the initial part of a deployment. Military planners
gained valuable experience in this no-notice operation and identified two
weaknesses in the prepo ship program. More attention and thought needs to
be given to the types and quantities of supplies that are embarked on the
ships. In particular, the make up of the ammunition block needs to be
revised. Second, the readiness of the equipment embarked on the prepo
ships was disappointing and needs to be improved. (24:47) Despite these
two shortcomings, the program has significant potential for future use and
should be expanded. In fact, as the prepo ships were reconstituted
following Operation Desert Storm, the total number grew to thirteen.(8)
What's more, the Afmy is actively pursuing efforts to increase the number
of ships even more, principally loading them with consumable supplies.
Fast Sealift Ships
The second fastest response to a surge sealift requirement comes from
the eight FSS vessels. Originally they were among the largest and fastest
container ships in the U. S. merchant fleet.(9) Acquired by the U.S. Navy
during the Sealift Enhancement Program of the 1980s they were
reconfigured to serve chiefly as RO/RO ships. The RO/RO design eases the
handling of wheeled and tracked vehicles. Together the ships have a
combined capacity to transport more than 8,000 military vehicles. (11:30)
The MSC has assigned all eight ships to FSS Squadron One. Like the MPS
Squadrons; FSS Squadron One is commanded by a Navy Captain with an
embarked staff. Berthed in U.S. ports, a nucleus crew of eighteen merchant
mariners maintains each ship in a ninety-six hour reduced operating status.
When activated the ships require a crew of forty-two. The additional crew
members are merchant mariners employed by private companies under
contract to the MSC.(10)
On 7 August, the MSC ordered FSS Squadron One to standup and to
transport the 24TH Inf Div (Mech) to Saudi Arabia. Within four days the
first ship, the USNS Capella, arrived at its embarkation port. It was
loaded and sailed for Saudi Arabia on 14 August. By 22 August all eight
ships had been loaded out. The first two ships covered the 8,700 nautical
miles at an average speed of twenty-seven knots, and reached their
debarkation port on 27 August.
However, the lift was not entirely trouble free. When the Squadron was
activated the USNS Antares was undergoing major maintenance on its
boilers. The crew hurriedly made the ship ready, but en route to Saudi
Arabia it experienced boiler problems and had to be towed to Rota, Spain.
The Naval Reserve Cargo Handling Battalion 4 was mobilized and deployed
to Rota within seventy-two hours. An hour and a half after their arrival
the Reservists were busy transferring the cargo from the USNS Antares to
the USNS Altair.(11) The FSS Squadron One completed the sealift of the
division's equipment on 13 September, twelve days behind schedule.
FSS Squadron One continued to provide sealift support in support of
Operation Desert Shield. By the end of January it had made a total of
thirty-two lifts and transported more than 500 million pounds of dry cargo.
This equates to the delivery capability of 116 World War II breakbulk ships.
The power plant problems of the USNS Antares illustrate a critical
shortcoming facing a significant number of the ships in the Strategic
Sealift Force. Relying upon technologies that are unique to these older
ships, such as huge steam power plants, imposes severe operating
challenges. With the majority of the commercial fleet converting to diesel
propulsion plants, experience with the complicated pressurized boiler
systems continues to erode. Undoubtedly, future FSS vessels will have a
power plant that the ships in the merchant fleet commonly use, but as a
critical interim measure a phased reengineering program for the ships in
FSS Squadron One should be undertaken.
The U.S. Merchant Marine fleet
As depicted in contingency plans, when the Strategic Sealift Force
cannot meet the sealift requirement using vessels from the Active Force,
MPS Squadrons, prepo ships, and the FSS Squadron, the Commander of the
MSC begins chartering vessels from the U.S. merchant marine fleet. During
the first month of Operation Desert Storm, the MSC chartered ten U.S. flag
merchant ships. (5:43) The importance of a strong U.S. merchant maritime
industry cannot be over emphasized - especially in view of the fact that its
ships and personnel are expected to provide 95 percent of the strategic
mobility lift required by the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM).(12)
(13)(20:21) However, the rapidly dwindling U.S. flag fleet represents such a
potentially catastrophic dilemma that military planners have been
expressing increasing concerns ever since the seventies. The U.S. merchant
marine once ruled the seas. In 1967, there were 1,113 active privately-
owned military useful ships, but by 1989 that number had diminished to
267. (19:33) This long-term downward trend of the merchant fleet
accelerated during the last three years. Today there are only 164 vessels
remaining in the ocean-going U.S. flag fleet and all of these are container
The last two major ship lines with large fleets under the U.S. flag,
American President Lines Ltd. and Sea Land Service Inc., are threatening to
place most of their ships under a foreign flag in 1995 unless they receive
major tax and regulatory concessions from the government.(14) Industry
analysts consider these two companies the anchors of the U.S. shipping
industry. They essentially invented container shipping which
revolutionized the shipping industry. The reflagging of their ships would
effectively spell the death of the ocean-going U.S. merchant marine, leaving
only intracostal and Great Lakes shipping, which must be American flag
under the Jones Act.
There are numerous economic penalties in flying the U.S. flag: more
costly tax rules; more stringent Coast Guard rules for U.S. ships than
foreign ships that among other things require larger crews; and the higher
cost of U.S. crews. The only direct financial advantages to flying the U.S.
flag are government subsidies to cover the higher cost of U.S. crews and a
requirement that all military cargo move in U.S. ships.(15) The maritime
operation subsidies amounted to $267.6 million in 1991, but the federal
government has scheduled these subsidies to end in 1997. Moreover, the
overall reduction of the U.S. military's force structure, as well as the
decrease in the number of forward based units translates into a significant
drop-off in military cargo. The two ship lines claim that these
developments will force them into the red unless some relief is given.
If American President Lines Ltd. and Sea Land Service Inc. do reflag
their ships it will further exacerbate the existing shortfall of sealift that
is available to the MSC. It would also mean that the MSC would be
perilously close to being incapable of meeting its military sustainment
requirements. During Operation Desert Storm these two ship lines carried
about twenty-five percent of all the military cargo and material shipped to
the Persian Gulf. (23:A4)
The Maritime Administration (MarAd) claims that if necessary the
United States could commandeer an estimated 138 U.S.-owned but foreign
flag ships to compensate for present and future sealift shortfalls. But, a
General Accounting Office (GAO) report challenges that view.(16) The GAO
believes that the MarAd could only take control of those ships owned by a
U.S. citizen, or by a U.S. corporation whose major officers and at least fifty
percent of the stockholders were U.S. citizens. Determining ownership
during a very short notice crisis would be extremely difficult.
Industry analysts have predicted the consequences of a rapidly shrinking
U.S. maritime industry for several years. In 1987, the President's
Commission on the Merchant Marine and Defense asserted, "There is today
insufficient strategic sealift, both ships and trained personnel, for the
United States, using only its resources as required by defense planning
assumptions, to execute a major deployment in a contingency operation in a
single distant theater such as SWA." (24:46) The effort of the eighties to
increase sealift capacity focused on a near-term solution that rapidly
expanded government ownership of merchant ships, but failed to reverse
the long-term downward trend of the merchant fleet. The ramifications of
this policy were readily apparent during Operation Desert Shield and are
reflected in the statements of VAdm Paul D. Butcher, Deputy Commander in
Chief, USTRANSCOM. In his testimony before the House Merchant Marine and
Fisheries Committee he stated, "If we would have had to move faster to
combat further aggression by Iraqi we may not have had the sealift to do it.
From a national security perspective then, we need to revitalize our U.S.
maritime Industry." (24:49)
A partial solution to modernizing and expanding the U.S. flag merchant
fleet would be for the government to establish an orderly program of
financial support for construction of new U.S. registered vessels suitable
for military needs. One such program currently under consideration
proposes that the U.S. government build ships that satisfy both commercial
and military needs and then lease them to the maritime Industry. After the
Congressional appropriation of funds for a shipbuilding and conversion
program for fast sealift the Maritime Administration sent several sealift
ship designs to U.S.-flag ship operators and asked them for their input.
This type of program is reminiscent of the l 95Os' Mariner program. Under
the l95Os' Mariner program, the Maritime Administration designed and
built thirty-five ships with government funds. U.S. operators chartered or
purchased these ships and successfully used them for many years.
Any attempted solution to revitalizing the U.S. flag merchant fleet will
also have to address the inherent higher cost of U.S. crews. If the Bush
Administration follows through on its plan to end the subsidies that were
created to cover the higher costs of U.S. crews, then it would only be
reasonable to take other steps that would allow American ship lines to
compete in a free market economy. One way to accomplish this would be to
allow the market place to determine merchant seamen's salaries and
compensate the seamen for their loss in revenue by exempting them from
The National Defense Reserve Fleet
The organization of the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) consists
of two elements; the Ready Reserve Fleets and the Naval Inactive Fleet. (See
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*The Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration maintains the ships in the Ready Reserve fleet. The Navy maintains the ships in the Naval Inactive Fleet.
The RRF is the core element of the NDRF. It was created because the
vast majority of the limited number of ships in the U.S. flag merchant
marine had specialized in providing transportation for containerized cargo.
This type of shipping is ideally suited for use during the sustainment phase
of a deployment, but the unit equipment requiring transportation during the
surge phase of a deployment is too bulky to be containerized. Therefore,
the Sealift Enhancement Program established the RRF to maintain ships
that are uneconomical for modern commercial purposes, but critical to
The RRF's inventory of ninety-six ships includes breakbulk ships, RO/RO
ships, modified crane ships capable of operating in unimproved or damaged
ports, small tankers, and barge carriers.(18) The MarAd contracts commercial
ship managers to maintain these ships in a five, ten, or twenty day
readiness status. During a crisis, the Commander of the MSC can request
their activation. Upon approval of the request, the ship managers organize
crews from the merchant marine to man the RRF ships. Once the ships are
fully stood up, the MarAd turns over operational control to the MSC.
Critics of the RRF argue that the government should focus more
attention on revitalizing the maritime industry. They point out that a
healthy U.S. merchant marine fleet of sufficient size and military cargo
hauling capability could fill in behind the early arriving prepositioned ships
and the fast sealift ships. What's more, it would not face the difficulties
of reactivation. However, U.S. merchant ships dispersed along the world's
trade routes would be malpositioned to carry the initial surge deployment
of cargoes. If it is effectively managed, the RRF provides the flexibility
and the responsiveness needed to respond to a short notice crisis.
During the first four months of Operation Desert Shield, the Commander
of the MSC requested activation of all the RRF's seventeen RO/RO ships and
thirteen heavy-lift ships. The activation of these ships still did not meet
the surge sealift requirement. In fact, the demand for RO/RO ships was so
great that during the first month of the deployment the MSC was forced to
charter fifteen foreign flag RO/RO ships. Unfortunately, the current
structure of the RRF emphasizes breakbulk freighters and tankers, the two
types of ships that were the least required in Operation Desert Shield.(18)
During this period, the Commander of the MSC requested activation of only
fifteen of the RRF's fifty-two breakbulk ships. Undoubtedly, the ships that
were activated were selected because they were considered the most
The RRF's inppropriate ship mix.is the first of many problems that need to be addressed. The fifty-two breakbulk ships are the most numerous
type of ship in the RRF. They were bought as a hedge against a diminishing
U.S. flag dry cargo capacity under the theory that they were "better than
nothing." But when the emergency came, these older breakbulk vessels
demonstrated that they had less utility than the planners had envisioned.
Operation Desert Shield undercut the original argument for their purchase
for the RRF. Devoting more money to their berthing and maintenance is
money better spent elsewhere in the program. Furthermore, any future ship
additions to the RRF should be of a RO/RO design, the type of ship in
greatest demand during Operation Desert Shield.
Another critical shortcoming of the RRF identified during Operation
Desert Shield was the overall readiness of the fleet. As part of its
responsibilities in administering the RRF program the MarAd is accountable
for its maintenance. Like many other government agencies its budget has
been reduced by Congress in recent years. For FY90 the MarAd's parent
organization, the Department of Transportation (DOT) submitted a budget
request of $239 million for the RRF. Congress slashed the request to $89
million. Not only did this preclude fleet expansion, but it also contributed
to the degradation in maintenance and overall readiness of the fleet.(19) The
difficulty in obtaining spare parts for these older ships further
complicated the RRF breakout. This is not surprising considering the
average age of an RRF ship is twenty-four years.
Former Secretary of Transportation Samuel Skinner points to the
reductions in funding for the RRF as indicative of the way the RRF has been
"shortchanged by the Congress in the appropriation process for a number of
years. As a result, Skinner warned that the readiness status of many RRF
ships was not realistic. One major impact of the under-funding according
to Skinner, was that the MarAd was unable to conduct test activations and
sea-trials of many of the ships in the RRF. More than half of the RRF ships
that were activated for Operation Desert Shield had not been tested since
becoming a part of the RRF. (8:13)
The actual results of the activation and performance of the ships
from the RRF bear out his predictions. During the first four months of
Operation Desert Shield, the Commander of the MSC requested that MarAd
activate forty-five ships from the RRF, but only forty-two ships were
actually turned over to the MSC. The remaining three were inoperable.(20)
Further, of the seventeen RO/RO ships that were initially requested, only
three were ready within their five day recall time!
The results for all forty-two ships activated were equally
disappointing. Only 11 were ready to sail on time; 13 were one-to-five
days late; 10 were six-to-ten days late; and 8 were eleven-to-twenty days
late, in all, only fourteen of the forty-two ships reached their loading
ports on time. Of the seventy-four RRF vessels that were eventually
activated, only twenty-two met their recall times. (3:93) These results
clearly indicate that the RRF s readiness must be-improved.
The NDRF also includes the Naval Inactive Fleet, which is commonly
referred to as the "mothball" fleet. It has expanded from its recent low of
55 ships in 1989, to its current level of 131 ships.(21) With the Navy's active
fleet on a steady downward slope from 580 ships in 1989, to 450 ships by
1995, the Naval Inactive Fleet is projected to continue its expansion to
more than 200 ships by 1995.(22)
The Navy is responsible for maintaining the ships in the Naval
Inactive Fleet at a readiness level that would allow them to be recalled
during a national emergency. However, VAdm Paul D. Butcher, Deputy
Commander in Chief, USTRANSCOM has observed that the material condition
of some of these ships is such that, "We do not believe they can be ready
for sea within their thirty to sixty day planned activation window." (24:48)
A more realistic figure would be closer to 120 days. (16:45)
Although the Naval Inactive Fleet theoretically represents a pool for
attrition replacement and would conceivably support conflicts at higher
levels of mobilization, it should be scrutinized for viability. The annual
maintenance funding of $2 million per year is not only a drain on funds, but
also provides planners with the illusion of viable assets. (18:22) For
several years now former Secretary of Transportation Samuel K. Skinner
has advocated scrapping the vessels in the Naval inactive Fleet and using
the funds to purchase additional ships for the RRF.
In view of the Persian Gulf War, the GAO studied this issue during
the latter-half of 1991. In its report to Congress the GAO stated that some
of these vessels could have been activated if needed for the war. However,
it would have taken more time than military planners wanted and the
majority of the ships are simply outdated. The GAO went on to suggest that
the government could raise about $42 million by selling the outdated ships
for scrap, and at the same time save additional honey because the
government would no longer have to spend money on their upkeep. On
January 28, 1992, the House of Representatives passed and sent to the
Senate a bill that would authorize just that.(23) Proceeds from the sale
would be earmarked for upgrading the remaining NDRF. If the Senate
concurs, then a significant portion of the Naval Inactive Fleet is expected
to be sold by 1997.
U.S. Merchant Mariners
In addition to being allowed to use the proceeds from the sale of
obsolete vessels from the Naval Inactive Fleet as a source of funding to add
more modern ships to the RRF, the DOT requested that Congress provide
enough additional funding in FY92 to add five more ships to the RRF. The
DOT's goal is to increase the RRF from 96 ships to 142 ships by I994.(24)
However, the RRF is no better than the maritime industrial base available
to activate the ships. In particular it is no better than the numbers and
skills of the mariners available for crews.
The expansion of the RRF should not exceed the limits imposed by the
human and industrial base. The current RRF may have reached that point.
The activation of the RRF during Operation Desert Shield created an
immediate requirement for 3,000 civilian mariners who understood the
uniqueness of military cargoes. At the request of the MarAd, the U.S.
Merchant Marine Academy began a massive campaign to contact over 7,500
graduates. The Academy contacted graduates as far back as the Class of
1955. Additionally, the Academy temporarily released several licensed
members of its faculty and staff for Operation Desert Shield duty. By
January, over sixty-five midshipmen were serving aboard the many vessels
supporting the operations. Even the Commandant of Midshipmen was
recalled to active duty.
The RRF met the challenge, but not without considerable difficulties.
This rapid activation of about half the ships severely stressed the supply
of qualified American mariners and the nations maritime industrial
capability. The difficulty in obtaining spare parts for the older ships
further complicated the breakout. Likewise, concerns about manning were
sharpened because the mostly steam-driven RRF was at odds with the
predominantly diesel experience of currently active licensed engineers.(25)
If the entire NDRF were mobilized, it would take many months to
train enough crewmen to man all the ships. In fact, it would take many
months to train enough crewmen just to man the ships in the RRF. In view
of the RRF mobilization during Operation Desert Shield, former Secretary of
Transportation Samuel K. Skinner stated that "putting less than half of the
emergency fleet in service has nearly exhausted the nation's supply of-
Any solution to the inadequate U.S. sealift must also address the
declining employment opportunities to U.S. merchant seamen. The MSC is
already the largest single employer of U.S. merchant mariners. When surge
sealift is needed in large quantities and on short notice this relationship
does not support an active base of mariners that would provide the
additional numbers of seaman needed. What's more, the current mariner
work force is aging. The averaged merchant mariner age is fifty-five.(26) By
the end of the decade the majority of the work force will be retired.
There are three possible solutions to overcoming the inadequate
number of merchant mariners. The ideal solution would be to revitalize the
U.S. merchant marine fleet. This represents a long term solution and would
require extensive government involvement. A second solution would be to
expand the U.S. Naval Reserve and assign it the mission of manning the RRF.
Militarily, this would be a preferable solution, but it would also require an
increase in the Defense Department's budget. Therefore, it is probably not
a viable political option. The third solution appears to be the most
feasible. It would establish a merchant marine reserve program. While
this would do little to revitalize the U.S. merchant marine fleet it would
provide trained crews that could be mobilized in an emergency.
Foreign Flag Shipping
A 1984 Department of Defense Sealift Study clearly identified that
the United States lacked the required sealift necessary to respond to a
crisis To overcome this deficiency, Secretary of Defense Casper
Weinberger decided that the United States would seek the commitment of
allied shipping in theaters in which U.S. allies could contribute shipping to
a common defense. Subsequently, the European members of NATO pledged to
augment the U.S. sealift effort that would be required to transport
equipment and material to Europe with a pool of 600 commercial ships.
Unfortunately, the European merchant fleets are also in a state of decline
and currently there are only 496 ships available for the pool. (16:45)
What's more, there is no guarantee that any of these ships would be
available to the United States in a non-NATO conflict.
As the 1984 DOD Sealift Study predicted, the shortfall of U.S. flagged
vessels and American mariners hindered the nation's ability to project
military power through sealift during Operation Desert Shield. To make up
for this shortfall the United States was able to obtain additional surge
sealift shipping from our allies, friends, and the world shipping market. In
the first month of the Operation we chartered thirty-five foreign flag
ships. (5:43) By the end of the third month this number had increased to
forty-seven. (8:17) During this twelve week period, these foreign flag
ships delivered fifteen percent of the dry cargo tonnage. By the end of the
twenty-first weeks- the percentage of dry cargo delivered by foreign flag
ships rose to twenty-two percent. (21:47) Table II provides a comparative
listing of the type and number of ships used in Operations Desert Shield and
Desert Storm as of 10 March 1991.
Click here to view image
As Table II plainly illustrates, only the ready availability of foreign flag shipping kept our lack of surge sealift capability from seriously
limiting the deployment of U.S. forces. Directives from the National
Command Authority led the Commander in Chief, Central Command to
require that all forces be in theater by 15 January. The Deputy Commander
in Chief, USTRANSCOM, VAdm Paul D. Butcher characterized the foreign
ships as "essential" to meeting this deadline.
The total number of foreign flag ships that were eventually
chartered to support the deployment and retrograde is even more dramatic
and vividly highlights the issue of the lack of U.S. flag sealift. Of the 197
commercial dry cargo ships chartered, 168 were foreign flag. (3:93)
Besides underscoring the Inadequacy of existing U.S. flag assets, the large
number of charted foreign flag ships raises the issue of risk in
incorporating such ships Into future planning. In this conflict, the coalition
against Iraq was broad and therefore there was an adequate amount of
foreign flag shipping available. However, against some other threat to U.S.
vital interests it could be narrow enough to preclude the general
availability of foreign flag ships for U.S. charter.
Furthermore, in developing contingency plans that rely on some
amount of foreign flag sealift, it would be prudent to remember that the
Allies lost 5,150 ships in World War II. Today, even some of the Third
World nations have fielded highly sophisticated submarines that are far
superior to the Nazi U-Boats of World War II. It seems reasonable to expect
at least some merchant ship attrition in future conflicts. This leads to the
question, how much effect would such a threat have on the availability of
foreign flag commercial shipping?
In analyzing the foreign flag shipping used in Operation Desert
Shield, particular attention should be paid to what was not volunteered or
made available for charter. Particularly noteworthy was the early absence
of any Japanese or German flag ships. The question of Japanese and German
contributions to the sealift effort was raised on several occasions, but
shipping assistance materialized very slowly. This slow response provides
a particularly telling comment on foreign assistance when one considers
that the Japanese have 426 RO/RO ships and 439 general cargo ships. Even
more significant is the fact that both Japan and Germany depend more on
oil exported from the Gulf than does the United States.
While such circumstances might have led us to expect ships to be
made readily available, the actual results only serve to remind us that
these ships are not subject to U.S. government control and may not be
avaliable when needed the most. This tends to reinforce the validity of a
cautious "go it alone" assumption concerning foreign participation in U.S.
led military operations. Therefore, we must be prepared to respond to
threats to our national security in geographic areas not covered by alliance
commitments or at times when allied shipping is not available.
Operation Desert Shield highlighted the fragile state of our current
sealift system. Yet, despite the United States' inadequate surge sealift
capability, USTRANSCOM carried out the surge phase of the Gulf deployment
without major problems. In fact, the United States deployed more forces,
faster and farther than ever before. But, the United States had four major
(1) Allied and friendly nations offered ships to the United States for
(2) The Iraqis did not initiate hostilities during the buildup phase.
(3) The undamaged ports of Saudi Arabia are among the most modern in
(4) Saudi Arabia provided substantial amounts of fresh water and
petroleum products to the coalition forces.
These four advantages combined to create a situation that tolerated
weaknesses in U.S. sealift readiness, which under different conditions
could have caused failure.
Before any comprehensive changes can be made to our sealift system,
policy makers must first determine the future force structure and force
employment concepts. Operation Desert Shield clearly demonstrated the
need to match lift assets with force requirements. The hand-in-glove
relationship between sealift and contingency force deployment requires
that the sealift system of the next decade needs to be tailored with greater
understanding and with a better fit in mind. A review of the U.S. Army's
and U.S. Marine Corps' deployable force posture would be a logical starting
The Army's base force of the future will provide a CONUS power
projection capability of one corps consisting of five divisions and a corps
support command (COSCOM).(27) The Army's position on the strategic mobility
of this corps is that the lead brigade must be on the ground by C+4, the lead
division by C+12, two heavy divisions sealifted from CONUS by C+30, and
the remaining two divisions and the COSCOM by C+75. To accomplish the
sealift portion of the Corps' deployment requires that ships be available at
ports to load initial units by C+2 on the East Coast and C+4 on the Gulf
Coast. The two heavy divisions would have to clear their CONUS ports by
C+10.(28) The forces would deploy with seven days of supplies, and prepo
ships would provide an additional thirty days of supplies. Continued
sustainment of the Corps would require that MSC establish the sea lines of
communication by C+30. (l)
The Marine Corps' deployable force posture is greatly influenced by
the availability of amphibious sealift. The Navy's amphibious assault fleet
provides the core element of the active duty portion of the strategic
sealift equation. More important than just adding to the total sealift
capacity, the amphibious assault fleet with its embarked Marines also
ensures access to areas lacking adequate port or off-loading facilities, or
areas requiring forcible entry. The Reagan era goal of a 600 ship Navy
would have provided the Marines with enough lift for a MEF and a MEB.
However, reductions in the defense budget and "block obsolescence" of
amphibious ships threatens to demolish the Marines' ability to prepare for
their amphibious mission. Currently, the Navy operates sixty-three
amphibious ships, including two LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank) in the NDRF.
However, fifty-two of these ships are scheduled to be retired between
1995 - 2008.(29)
The Marine Corps' position is that it requires enough amphibious
shipping to transport the assault echelons (AE) of two MEFs; one in the
Atlantic, and one in the Pacific. An AE would consist of the units that
would lead an amphibious assault. Roughly equivalent to a MEB, it would
contain approximately 2 0,000 Marines, with fifteen days of supplies. The
balance of the MEF, between 30,000 and 40,000 Marines, comprises the
assault follow-on echelon (AFOE). (31:61) This AFOE would then require
transportation in "black - bottom" (non-Navy) ships This places an
increased emphasis on the need for a responsive surge sealift capability.
During a recent interview, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Carl E.
Mundy, Jr. stated that, "A fast sealift capability clearly would benefit all
users of sealift, including Marines, In a major amphibious operation, or to
sustain the forces ashore." (31:64)
This is not to say that we can or should neglect our amphibious
assault shipping. We must maintain a reasonable balance between assault
shipping and the other types of surge sealift. Otherwise we will be in the
situation that LtGen Bernard E. Trainor, USMC (Ret), was warning against
when he observed:
The ability to make a forcible entry cannot be overemphasized and is perhaps the most important point to be made. A nation may have the most formidable of forces with the most exquisite means of strategic mobility, but if the combination of the two cannot ensure successful entry except by invitation, the nation has only a reinforcement capability. (10:57)
To provide enough sealift for the AE of two MEFs, three major
amphibious shipbuilding programs are under way and a feasibility study for
a fourth is being conducted.(30) The Defense Department's Base Force Plan
reflects the net effect between retirement and new construction. The
number of ships in the Navy's amphibious assault fleet will shrink to fifty,
where it is to remain steady. (17:4)
In the past, the number of ships necessary to meet the wartime
requirement, plus a percentage of ships that would be in the maintenance
cycle determined the size of the amphibious assault fleet. For example, to
meet the wartime requirement to provide enough sealift for the AE of two
MEFs, two MEBs worth of amphibious ships are required. A national MEB
requires nineteen amphibious ships to lift it; therefore, thirty-eight ships
are necessary. After factoring in maintenance requirements, a total of 2.5
MEBs worth of amphibious ships is needed. This is very close to the Navy's
plan for fifty amphibious ships.
Today however, we must also consider the requirement of
maintaining a forward presence. Again, the events of Desert Shield serve
to illustrate this point. As was pointed out earlier, a national MEB requires
nineteen amphibious ships to lift it. But only thirteen amphibious ships
were available to embark 4th MEB for its deployment to the Persian Gulf.
This prevented the embarkation of all AE's cargo aboard amphibious
shipping The MEB eventually loaded the overflow aboard two MPS ships.
This provided a field expedient solution to the lack of amphibious shipping,
but it had a significant operational impact because it limited the number of
potential landing sites available to the landing force.
The lack of available amphibious shipping was the result of a
conscientious decision to maintain a forward presence in other areas of the
world. The 22nd MEU and 26th MEU were deployed to the Mediterranean; a
training deployment, the West African Training Cruise (WATC) was
conducted off the coast of Africa; and a training deployment, the United
States Integrated Training of American States (UNITAS) was conducted off
the coast of South America. Responses to future crisis will face similar
constraints. The planned reduction in amphibious shipping will leave
military planners with even less flexibility and far short of its true
The obstacles that had to be overcome in deploying to the Persian
Gulf serve to illustrate that we must ensure that the true lessons of
Operation Desert Shield are not swept away by the, euphoria over the
stunning success of Operation Desert Storm. The key lesson we should take
away from the conflict in SWA is that our nation must be prepared, with
little warning, to project significant U.S. forces great distances. To solve
the deficiencies in surge sealift that were highlighted during Operation
Desert Shield requires a series of actions that represent a balanced
approach. These actions would include: expanding our prepo ship program
while improving the nature and quality of the cargo embarked aboard it;
modernizing the power plant of our FSS vessels; providing government
assistance to revitalize our merchant marine fleet; stripping the NDRF of
its obsolete ships, tailoring its future make-up of ships to be more useful
in a crisis; improving the maintenance of all ships in an on call status;
providing a means of rapidly expanding our sealift capability without
depleting the manpower pool of skilled mariners; and maintaining the
Navy's amphibious assault fleet close to its current level.
Above all else this balanced approach must represent a long term
commitment that needs be followed through to the end. We have made
several attempts in the past to correct some of these deficiencies; only to
see such efforts diverted at the last minute. For example, Congress
appropriated $15 million for fast sealift research and development in the
1990 Budget. The money was later transferred to fund the Panama
Economic Aid Bill. Under a separate proposal Congress also appropriated
$600 million for a sealift shipbuilding program. The Graham-Rudman-
Hollings Deficit Reduction Act came into play and led to an $8 million
reduction in the program. In its FY91 defense budget plan, the
Administration proposed shifting the remaining $592 million to fund M-1
tanks. The Administration eventually transferred about half these funds to
military personnel accounts and withheld the rest under the Impoundment
Control Act. Since these actions did not have an easily identifiable effect
on our deployment to Saudi Arabia the consequences of similar actions
could be easily misunderstood. If they are misunderstood, our triumph
during Operation Desert Shield of deploying such a large force, in record
time will have become a facade that put too pleasant a face on reality.
List of Abbreviations
AE assault echelon
AFOE assault follow-on echelon
APF Afloat Prepositioning Force
CONUS continental United States
COSCOM Corps Support Command
DOT Department of Transportation
FSS fast sealift ship
FY fiscal year
GAO General Accounting Office
LKA amphibious cargo ship
LPD-2 amphibious transport dock
LPD-4 amphibious cargo ship
LPH landing platform helicopter
LSD landing ship, dock
LST landing ship, Tank
MAC Military Airlift Command
MarAd Maritime Administration
MEB Marine Expeditionary Brigade
MEF Marine Expeditionary Force
MEU Marine Expeditionary Unit
MEU (SOC) Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations
MPS Maritime prepositioning ship
MSC Military Sealift Command
MTMC Military Traffic Management Command
NDRF National Defense Reserve Fleet
OPDS offshore petroleum distribution ship
POG Port Operations Group
POL petroleum, oil, and lubricants
Prepo Ship prepositioning ship
RRF Ready Reserve Fleet
S/T short ton
SWA Southwest Asia
T-ACS auxiliary crane ship
T-AH hospital ship
T-AVB logistic support ship
UNITAS United States Integrated Training of American
USTRANSCOM United States Transportation Command
WATC West African Training Cruise
1. This was five days after President Bush's prophetic speech to the Aspen
Institute cited at the beginning of this paper.
2. For the 1990 Active Force, the MSC contracted from commerical ship
companies the services of eleven U.S. flag dry cargo ships and twenty-six
U. S. flag tankers. (24.47)
3. The MPS vessels and the prepo ships make up the MSC's Afloat
Prepositioning Force (APT)
4. The commerical ship companies currently involved in the MPS program
are the Maersl Line, the Ameica Overseas Marine Corporation, and the Waterman
Steam Ship Corporation.
5. The Navy Captain's official naval title is Commandore, MPS
6. The other two MPS ships were tasked to support the amphibious landing
force (CTF 158) in the Persian Gulf, (CFT 158 consisted of 4th MEB, 5th MEB
and 13th MEU (SOC)
7. These twelve ships consist of: 4 dry cargo ships containing cargo
for Army units, 1 float on/float off ship containing cargo for the Army's
POG; 3 dry cargo ships containing cargo for Air Force units; 1 dry cargo
ship containing a naval fleet hospital; and 3 tankers.
8. These thirteen ships consist of : 3 dry cargo ships containing cargo
for Army units, 1 float on/float off ship containing cargo for the Army's
POG; 4 dry cargo ships containing cargo for Air Force units; 1 dry cargo
ship containing a naval fleet hospital; 4 tankers (2 consol and 2 OPDS
tankers loaded with JP-5 fuel, which can be used in both aircraft and
9. These ships are almost as large as an aircraft carrier and can cruise
at speeds of more than thirty knots.
10. The commerical ship companies currently involved in the FSS program
are the International Marine Carriers, Inc. and the Bay Tankers, Inc.
11. The USNS Altair is another FSS vessel that was returning to the U.S.
after unloading its cargo in Saudi Arabia.
12. The U.S. Transportation Command has three component commands; the
Military Airlift Command (MAC), the Military Sealift Command (MSC), and the
Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC).
13. Even through the ships in the Strategic Sealift Force are a combination
of government owned and leased or chartered commerical ships, they are all
crewed by merchant mariners.
14. The two ship lines desire faster depreciation schedules, permission
to lower crew salaries, and the exemption of crew salaries from income tax.
Most foreign countries exempt merchant mariners from income tax. They also
request that U.S. authorities adopt international ship design standards. The
U.S. accepts these standards for foreign ships calling at U.S. ports, but
require more stringent rules for U.S. ships.
15. The government can waive this requirement during a military crisis.
For example, operations Desert Shield/Storm required the use of foreign
flagged shipping to transport military cargo.
16. The GAO findings were rendered in an April 1988 report to Senator
Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.)
17. These ninety-six ships can be separated into three broad categories:
eighty-three dry cargo freighters, eleven tankers, and two Landing Ship,
18. For Desert Shield, high grade fuels were readily available, reducing
the need for a large number of tankers.
19. To maintain the ships in the RRF in a five, ten, or twenty day recall
status requires about $225 million per year for maintenance. (20:22) The
DOT's FY92 budget allocates $234 million for the RRF. (3:99)
20. By the end of operations in SWA, the Commander of the MSC had requested
the activation of a total of seventy-eight RRF vessels, but only seventy-four
were turned over to the MSC.
21. It is important to note that 115 of these ships are World War II -
era vessels. (18:22)
22. In his March 3 &4,1992 testimony before the Senate Defense Appropriations
Subcommittee and the House Armed Services Committee, Navy Secretary H. Lawrence
Garrett III said, "Three ships are being decommissioned every two weeks." (27:6)
Some of the retiring ships will be sold or leased to foreign navies, some will
become museums, and more than a few will be sold for scrap.
23. HR 3512, The National Defense Surplus Fleet Disposal Act
24. The DOT's expansion plan forecasts an RRF composed of 104 dry cargo
ships, 36 tanker ships, & 2 LSTs.
25. Eighty-three percent of the RRF ships have steam propulsion plants,
sixteen percent have diesel, and one percent have gas turbine.
26. The oldest merchant mariner involved in the sealift of equipment and
supplies during Operation Desert Shield was eighty-two years old. (13)
27. The five divisions are: the 82nd INF DIV (ABN), the 101st INF DIV
(AASLT), the 24th INV DIV (M), the 1st CAV DIV (AR), and the 7th INF DIV(L)
28. The National Security Council estimates that to deploy a mechanized
division would require transportation for more than 100,000 tons of cargo.
To sustain that division overseas would require the daily delivery of
approximately 1,000 tons of supplies and ammunition. (25..46)
29. Among the ships the Navy is scheduled to retire during this period
are: 7 LPHs (landing platform helicopter), 6 LSDs (landing ship, dock).
2 LPD-2s (amphibious transport dock), 11 LPD-4s (amphibious card ship),
and 5 LKA (amphibious cargo ship).
30. The three major amphibious shipbuilding programs currently under
way are: the L5D-4 (Whidbey Island-class) dock landing ship, the LSD-41
cargo variant dock landing ship, and the LHD- I (Wasp-class) multimission
amphibious assault ship. The feasibility study is focusing on a new
amphibious ship designated LX. It is now being designed and will be
configured to replace the LPD, LSD, LKA, and LST classes. The Navy's
current five-year shipbuilding plan calls ordering one LX ship in 1995
and one in 1997. (28:28)
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Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office 1992
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5. Donovan, Francis R. "Surge and Sustainment." Sea Power, 33 (November 1990),
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Transportation Journal, 47 (June 1991), 60-66.
7. Fuchs William F. "Sealift Ships Play Major Role in Desert Storm."
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8. Gibson, Andrew E. and Shuford, Jacob L. "Desert Shield and Strategic
Sealift." Naval War College Review, 44 (Spring 1991), 6-19.
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11. Johnson, Hansford T. "Sealift is Our Bedrock." Defense 91, (March/April 1991), 30.
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14. Kestelcot, Robert W. "Fast Sealift Ship Program: All Ahead Slow."
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17. Longo, James. "80,000 more sailors at risk," Navy Times March 23, 1992, p. 4.
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