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The Achilles Heel Of Our National Strategy: Sealift

The Achilles Heel Of Our National Strategy: Sealift


CSC 1992


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


A. Airlift


1. Advantages/Disadvantages


2. Summarized performance in SWA


B. Sealift

1. Advantages/Disadvantages

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





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

Bibliography 40



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.


Click here to view image




Figure 1


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.


Click here to view image


Movement Summary to SWA

as of 10 March l991

Table 1


*The figures do not include Navy or Marine forces afloat.

** (13)


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

a crisis.

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

future crisis.


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.


Click here to view image


Organization of the Military Sealift Command

Figure 2


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).


Click here to view image

* 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

ships. (23:A4)

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

income tax.


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


Figure 4)


Click here to view image

*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

military operations.

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 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-

merchant mariners."

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

* (13)

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.


Future Sealift


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

the world.

(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

PAX passenger

POG Port Operations Group

POL petroleum, oil, and lubricants

Prepo Ship prepositioning ship

RO-RO roll-on/roll-off

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

Squardon 1/2/3.


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,

Tank (LST).


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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3. Cheney, Dick. Annual Report to the President and the Congress

Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office 1992


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Defense 91, (March/April 1991), 12- 17.


5. Donovan, Francis R. "Surge and Sustainment." Sea Power, 33 (November 1990),



6. Donovan, Francis R. "Test of Sealift Planning for MSC." Defense

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Defense Transportation Journal, 47 (April 1991), 10- 14.


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Sealift." Naval War College Review, 44 (Spring 1991), 6-19.


9. Hoeller, Bruce, Capt, USN, SACLAN, LNO to JCS. Personal interview

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10. Hoffman, F.G. "The New National Security Strategy." Marine Corps

Gazette, 76 (February 1992), 48-57.


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12. Johnson, Hansford T. "The Defense Transportation System." Defense

Transportation Journal, 47 (October 1991), 21-32.


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