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Sealift Program - PM5
Strategic Sealift Force - PM5

The MSC Sealift Program provides marine transportation to the Department of Defense in peace, contingency and war, carrying combat equipment and supplies to locations around the world and providing surge shipping of these assets when required. In addition to routine peacetime sealift, the program provides ocean transport for humanitarian and peacekeeping missions.

In peacetime, the Sealift Program's Tanker and Cargo Project Offices employ a diverse force of chartered ships: tankers, roll-on/roll-off ships, combination ships (roll-on / roll-off / container / breakbulk), heavy-lift ships, tugs and barges. The Surge Sealift Project office uses its fleet of government owned Fast Sealift Ships and large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships, or LMSRs, to ensure preparedness for contingencies and war, employing commercial contractors to maintain and crew the ships. The Sealift Program also maintains a close working relationship with the Maritime Administration, owners and operators of the Ready Reserve Force, or RRF.

The Tanker Project Office manages all aspects of the ocean transportation of petroleum products to support Defense Energy Supply Center petroleum storage and distribution facilities worldwide. The Tanker Project Office began and ended fiscal year 1999 with seven tankers under long-term contract to move DOD petroleum. Additionally, 73 voyage-chartered vessels added to the overall lifting capacity of the fleet. More than 300 cargo lifts delivered almost two billion gallons of petroleum products to DOD facilities around the world. The major bulk-fuel products carried included US Navy jet fuel; diesel fuel marine (the primary Navy and Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force bunker fuel) and kerosene-based jet fuel (the primary fuel for US Army ground forces and US Air Force jets). Sealift tankers also carried low temperature turbine fuel, gasoline and heavy bunker fuel oil for the Afloat Prepositioned Force at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

At the heart of the MSC-controlled fleet are the T-5 tankers. Built in 1985, these five 237,000-barrel-capacity tankers have double hulls. They also are ice strengthened and have advanced technology safety systems. Two of the T-5s are equipped with modular fuel delivery systems, which allow them to refuel naval combatants at sea. The tankers are under a 20-year operations charter until 2005. Other tanker time charters in fiscal year 1999 included MV Allegiance and shallow draft vessel MV Valiant. MSC tanker charter assets provide a shuttle service between fuel suppliers in South Korea and Japan to Defense Energy Support Center shallow draft depots in Japan and Korea. In FY 2000, T-1 tanker MV Valiant completed more than 45 voyages. MSC also manages a contract for fuel shuttle service within Tokyo Bay depots.

The Cargo Project Office is responsible for DOD dry cargo ocean transportation. The office manages commercial charters (long- and short-term) and assigns Fast Sealift Ships, LMSRs and RRF ships to cargo lifts when needed. The office continues to rely on commercial US flagged voyage charters to augment the time chartered or MSC controlled fleet. When commercial assets are not available, sealift is assigned from surge, RRF or prepositioning assets, when available. The Cargo Project Office used six time-chartered ships to provide unique lift capability and service to areas not covered by normal liner service. Where augmentation of time-chartered assets was required, the office contracted for shorter term commitments of 90-120 days. This helped meet schedule gaps without overcommitting scarce resources. In all, 113 days of potential dead time - the time a ship is not utilized - were eliminated for a total cost avoidance of more than $3.1 million.

The Cargo Project Office expanded its use of LMSRs for operational missions during the ships' shakedown periods. In coordination with the other program managers, five LMSRs were assigned to Kosovo support operations, exercise Bright Star and Joint Readiness Training Command rotations. This saved more than $8.3 million by avoiding the cost of assigning ten FSS to support the same missions. The office also expanded its business base as DOD customers turned to MSC as a cost effective alternative to other transportation methods. The Navy Fleet Hospital Program saved more than $4.6 million in fiscal year 1999 by using the MSC-controlled ship Green Wave for movement of fleet hospitals to and from the western Pacific and the Arctic Oceans. Coordination with customers was another area of focus in fiscal year 1999. For example, MV Maersk Constellation's schedule was revised with customer approval to accommodate cargo lifts for exercises Crocodile 99 and Foal Eagle 99, avoiding the need to charter two additional vessels. Savings exceeded $1 million.

The Surge Project Office manages Fast Sealift Ship and LMSR operations and maintenance and conducts DOD oversight of the Ready Reserve Force. The Surge Project Office manages eight FSS, normally maintained in reduced operating status and capable of being activated and ready for sea in four days. Seven of the eight FSS participated in exercises or relief operations during fiscal year 1999. The exercises included Crocodile 99/Freedom Banner, Noble Anvil, Ulchi Focus Lens and Bright Star. Relief operations included humanitarian missions following Hurricanes Georges and Mitch. The fast, large-capacity vessels contributed to more than $3 million in savings during the year through reduced maintenance and repair costs.

MSC's eight Surge LMSRs, while not quite as fast, can carry up to 380,000 square feet of cargo, the equivalent of eight football fields, at speeds up to 24 knots. The Surge LMSRs can be ready to sail in 96 hours, like the Fast Sealift Ships. The Surge Project Office received a new LMSR, USNS Fisher, in fiscal year 1999, ending the year with two of the eleven LMSRs being added to the surge fleet to meet DOD mobility requirements. Three LMSRs -- USNS Gordon, USNS Seay and USNS Yano -- joined the surge fleet in FY 2000, bringing the total to five. In FY 2000, the first LMSR layberths were awarded: two in Baltimore, Md., and two near New Orleans, La.

The Surge Project Office monitors the RRF, which comprises 91 militarily useful merchant ships owned and maintained by the U.S. Maritime Administration. The ships can be activated in four, five, 10 or 20 days. When activated, RRF ships come under the operational control of Military Sealift Command. MSC representatives routinely visit each of the ships, evaluating readiness, observing sea and dock trials and working with Maritime Administration personnel, ship managers and shipboard personnel on maintenance actions.

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