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Cape D Class - Ro-Ro

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. Marine Transport Lines, Inc. of Weehawken, NJ was awarded $10,155,570 over 5 years for Cape Decision and Cape Douglas. Marine Transport Lines was also awarded $10,155,570 over 5 years for Cape Diamond and Cape Domingo. Marine Transport Lines, Inc. of Weehawken, NJ was awarded $10,155,570 over 5 years for Cape Edmont and Cape Ducato.

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of contracts to manage RRF ships in 1998, MARAD independently discovered an error in the award process, and rescinded the contracts.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. Marine Transport Lines, Inc. of Weehawken, NJ was awarded $11,098,030 for Cape Edmont and Cape Ducato, $11,098,030 for Cape Decision and Cape Douglas, and $11,097,430 for Cape Diamond and Cape Domingo.

The Cape D class of RO/RO ships were designed and built as commercial vehicle transporters. Currently, these vessels are configured as wheeled and tracked RO/RO carriers with some container stowage capability. Two ships of the Cape D RO/RO class served with the Army Preposition Afloat [APA] program. They were the MV Cape Decision and MV Cape Douglas. These ships can carry up to 554 standard (8'x8'x20') ISO containers, but have no shipboard cranes; they require either pier cranes or an auxiliary crane ship to unload them. They have a fixed 65-ton-capacity vehicle ramp on the starboard/stern quarter. The ramp allows RO/RO operations to the starboard side or aft only. These ships are capable of carrying 170,000 square feet of cargo.

A Roll-On/Roll-Off [RO/RO] ship is specifically designed to carry wheeled and tracked vehicles as all or most of its cargo. Vehicles are driven or towed on and off the ship by means of either the ship's own ramps or shore-based ramps. Because it is designed to accommodate cargoes which cannot be stacked but which vary in height, below-deck space and volume utilization is generally less efficient than on a containership. RO/RO ships are thus commercially viable only in certain specialized trades. However, the RO/RO is the preferred ship type for deployment of military unit equipment. The military advantages of RO/RO ships include the capability for rapid loading and discharge of military vehicles and non-self-deployable aircraft, and open deck areas well suited to the carriage of outsized military cargo. Their military disadvantages include their relative unsuitability for carriage of sustaining supplies and ammunition (in comparison with general cargo and containerships) and their limited availability, because their market sector is much reduced compared with containerships.

The RO/RO ship is primarily a vehicle transporter that allows vehicles to drive on or off the ship via ramps. RO/RO cargo includes wheeled, tracked, self-propelled, and towed vehicles and equipment. A series of external and internal ramps facilitate the loading and discharge of RO/RO cargo. To maintain safe operations, the ramp angle for loading/unloading procedures is no greater than 15 degrees. When designing wheeled or tracked equipment, the materiel developer/contractor must allow for adequate clearance underneath the vehicle to prevent contact at the ramp crest/toe for a 15 degree ramp and enough clearance above the vehicle to prevent projection interference problems.



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