T-AOT 181 Potomac
The T-AOT mission is to provide transportation and storage of bulk petroleum products. The mission requires each ship to be capable of conducting Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) operations from instream, pierside, afloat prepositioning and point-to-point ocean transport. All ships are capable of consolidation while alongside. Those ships that are part of the Merchant Ship Naval Augmentation Program (MSNAP) have added underway replenishment mission capabilities for alongside delivery of fuel. They are Capable of loading, transporting, preserving and storing on-station bulk petroleum products. The ships conduct Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) and Assault Follow-On Echelon (AFOE) operations, including cargo discharge either in the stream using the Offshore Petroleum Discharge System (OPDS), or at a pier. They are capable of getting underway on 24 hour notice after normal protracted periods on station, at anchor, or alongside a pier (prepositioning ships only).
There is a wide variety of design configurations among the T-AO. These Afloat Prepositioning Tankers have little in common apart from their designation as a single class of Transport Oilers in the Naval Vessel Register. There is considerable confusion among sources as to the designation of these ships, and the presumably authoritative NVR disputed by other Navy sources.
The T-AOT ships comprise both commercially-owned and -operated ships chartered by the U.S. Government, and Government-owned ships operated by civilian crews, all under the administrative control of the Commander, Military Sealift Command (COMSC). As commercial ships, the T-AOT class ships are civilian manned in accordance with regulatory requirements, and time charters or operating contracts.
T-AOT 181 Potomac is 620 feet long, 84 feet wide and has a deadweight tonnage of 27,467 long tons. SS Potomac was built in 1957 by Sun Shipbuilding. On 26 September 1961 the new T-5 tanker USNS Potomac was discharging fuel at Morehead City, North Carolina for Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, when a fire erupted on the water surrounding the vessel. The ship burned for six days and two of the ship's crew were killed. Keystone Shipping Inc., received a contract for five-years, with options for 15 further years, to rebuild the ship. She returned to service as the SS Shenandoah, and in 1976 MSC purchased the ship and returned her former name.
T-AOT 181 Potomac is an offshore petroleum discharge system, or OPDS, tanker. Potomac was the first OPDS tanker delivered, and as such, has the prototype OPDS system equipment installed. Potomac can support any logistics over the shore operation with 173,000 barrels of JP-5 fuel delivered through its integral OPDS system. The tanker Potomac was prepositioned in Diego Garcia and assigned to the Afloat Prepositioning Force in 1991. The ship is operated by Bay Ship Management and owned by MARAD.
SS Potomac returned to the Beaumont Reserve Fleet, after concluding a historic 10-year deployment and service to the Afloat Prepositioning Force (APF). A ceremony honoring the ship and its exemplary record of service occurred 26 June 2001 in Galveston, Texas, at the Texas Maritime Academy. The vessel was activated for Operation Desert Shield in 1990 and was on station overseas for over 10 years participating in sorties, exercises, and training evolutions. SS Potomac assisted in the humanitarian Rwandan food relief effort, bringing both food and potable water to an area devastated by famine. After assisting again in Bosnia, the Potomac earned the U.S. Navy's "E" for excellence ship award during convoy exercises in the Indian Ocean.
The RRF vessel SS Chesapeake activated in 2000 and replaced SS Potomac in Diego Garcia. SS Chesapeake is one of Military Sealift Command's thirteen Common User Tankers and one of the 90 RRF ships in the Sealift Program Office (PM5).
The American Osprey [designated T-AOT 5075, though also reportedly designated T-AOT 5074] is an off-shore petroleum discharge tanker and has a 235,000-barrel capacity. The tanker primarily serves the U.S. Marine Corps, although the ship can support the Army or Air Force as needed. American Osprey is 661 feet long, 90 feet wide and has a deadweight capacity of 34,723 long tons. The American Osprey came under fire from bandits on 25 June 1993 while docked in the port of Mogadishu, Somalia as part of Operation Restore Hope. The ship suffered damage from a suspected mortar or rocket propelled grenades. The damage opened one of the jet fuel tanks and some of the cargo piping on deck, though it failed to cause a fire or explosion.
The T-AOT 9101 Petersburg [claimed by some sources to be designated T-AOT 5075] is prepositioned in the Guam/Saipan area.
On 12 June 1998 US Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater announced the award of a total of 39 performance-based contracts to 10 American ship-owning and -operating companies to manage 89 ships of the Ready Reserve Force. The total estimated value for the contracts included the expected costs of shipyard work and other maintenance and operational expenses for which the ship managers are reimbursed. V Ships Marine, Limited of Mineola, NY was awarded $14,631,130 over 5 years for Keystone State, Gem State, Grand Canyon State and Petersburg. V Ships Marine was also awarded $8,458,890 over 3.25 years for Chesapeake and Mount Washington, and $3,305,660 over 5 years for American Osprey and Potomac.
Following this announcement of contracts to manage RRF ships in 1998, MARAD independently discovered an error in the award process, and rescinded the contracts. It extended existing contracts to make sure the ships remained mission ready. On 04 May 2000 Maritime Administrator Clyde J. Hart Jr. announced the award of 33 contracts, awarded on a competitive basis, to nine American ship owning and operating companies to manage 74 of the Ready Reserve Force ships. Interocean Ugland Management Corp. of Voorhees, NJ was awarded $2,723,650 for Petersburg and Potomac. Interocean Ugland Management was also awarded $6,921,545 for Chesapeake and Mount Washington.
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