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M/V Ocean Atlas

US Ocean LLC, America's newest U.S. flag carrier, provides heavy-lift service worldwide. The company recently placed two heavy-lift vessels under the US Flag. The M/V Ocean Atlas (previously named Industrial Challenger) began flying the U.S. flag in early 2002 and the M/V Ocean Titan (previously named Industrial Chief) began flying the US Flag in mid 2005. Both vessels built in 2000 are enrolled in the Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA) and MSP programs sponsored by MARAD and the Department of Defense's sealift readiness.

The 8,000 DWT heavy lift vessels have 400 metric tons lifting capacity, about 11,500-cbm bale, box-shaped holds with tweendecks adjustable in three positions, and 16.5 knot service speed. The ships are very well suited for the movement of project/heavy-lift and military cargoes such as heat exchangers, turbines, generators, locomotives, refinery equipment and the like.

Work to reflag a heavy-lift vessel in the US for participation in the Maritime Security Program was completed in September 2005 at the Atlantic Marine Shipyard in Mobile. The ship, now named Ocean Titan, will be operated by Pacific Gulf Marine Inc., which will also operate the heavy-lift ship Ocean Atlas in the MSP. The Ocean Atlas had been operating independent of the Maritime Security Program as the Industrial Challenger. Both the Ocean Titan and Ocean Atlas will be manned by AMO and the SIU.

On its maiden voyage, the Industrial Challenger (now Ocean Atlas) was positioned to Houston where it loaded two power plants and other cargoes for Venezuela, Trinidad, and Brazil. Later on, the vessel completed the movement of four Coast Guard cutters to the Persian Gulf in support of operation Iraqi Freedom.

Prior to the Iraq war, the U.S. Coast Guard called on the company to move four Coast Guard Cutters to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Industrial Challenger, a US flagged vessel in the fleet of Intermarine's Americas service, loaded these 110 ft boats in Norfolk, Virginia. The high-speed cutters were used to protect navy ships and commercial vessels sailing the waters of the Persian Gulf.

Later in 2003, the Industrial Challenger transported four General Electric power plants to Iraq. In January 2004, the Challenger transported four General Electric power plants to Umm Qasr and became the first US flagged commercial vessel to call Iraq since Desert Storm. The Industrial Challenger was selected partly because of its two 200 ton cranes that allow heavy lifts to be placed throughout the full reach of the ship. These cranes can also be combined to lift up to 400 tons, which is by far the greatest lifting capacity of any U.S. flagged ship. Upon arrival in Iraq, the vessel faced shortages of labor for stevedoring and welding supplies for releasing the cargo securing. However, the crew and vessel, supplied the necessary men and material to safely discharge the cargo direct to waiting flatbed trucks and heavy haul transporters.

While on its return voyage from Iraq, the Department of State requested that the vessel be quietly diverted to Libya, where under special security cover, the vessel was loaded in its entirety with equipment from Libya's nuclear and other WMD programs arsenal. They included specialized centrifuges used in the processing of uranium to weapons grade, equipment from a uranium conversion facility, and Libya's five SCUD-C longerrange missiles. The cargo was discharged at an undisclosed U.S. East Coast port. The Libyan cargo move was truly a spur-of-the-moment operation. "The ship had just cleared Gibraltar and was headed to Portugal to load other cargo when we got a request from the Department of State," related Paul Wilson, Intermarine's VP for US Flag Services. "It quickly became apparent that this was a mission that simply had to be We made alternative arrangements for the Portuguese cargo and sent the ship back into the Mediterranean headed for Libya." There, the Industrial Challenger became the first U.S. flagged vessel to call a Libyan port since the U.S. bombed Tripoli almost twenty years ago.

Year of Build 2000
Flag United States
Type Heavy-Lift, Box-Hold, Multipurpose Vessel
Class Germanischer Lloyd GL + 100 A5 "E" G - equipped for carriage of containers
SOLAS II-2. Reg. 54 + MC AUT "E" Grain Fitted
Service Speed 16.5 Knots
LOA 119.80 M
Beam 20.00 M
Draught 7.715 M
DWAT 8,000 MT
GRT/NRT 7252 / 2754
Holds / Hatches 3 Holds/3 Hatches
Grain/Bale capacity About 11,500 cbm
Free height in holds 12.00 M
Adjustable Tweendecks Yes - 3 positions
Longest hold/hatch Tweendeck pontoons can be configured to provide one long unobstructed cargo hold with one weather deck hatch opening of about 71M x 15.8M.
Cargo Gear Two electro-hydraulic cranes with the following capacities:
  • Crane one: Heavy Lift 200 MT (between No. 1 + 2 Hold at Portside)
  • Crane two: Heavy Lift 200 MT (between No. 2 + 3 Hold at Portside)
  • Cranes Combinable for 400MT SWL

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