T-AK 4496 LTC John U.D. Page
A Military Sealift Command ship was named in honor of Korean War Medal of Honor recipient Army Lt. Col. John U.D. Page on 21 February 2001, at Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Norfolk, VA [NORSHIPCO, a division of U.S. Marine Repair (USMR)]. The ship had been undergoing conversion from a commercial container ship to a self sustaining ammunition container ship at the yard since late October 2000 and was delivered to MSC 01 March 2001. The chartered ship, operated for MSC, prepositions Army containerized ammunition at sea, adding greatly to the US military's combat readiness.
Page and her sister ship, MV Sgt. Edward A. Carter, Jr. -- delivered to MSC in June 2001 -- carried all of the Army's containerized prepositioned ammunition by the end of 2001. Each ship carried a total of 2,500 20-foot containers -- 2,230 under deck and 270 in a cocoon above deck. Both cargo areas were air-conditioned and dehumidified to protect the ammunition. Page has four cranes on her deck that allow her to on-load and off-load ammunition without shoreside cranes. This critical feature gives Page the flexibility to off-load in undeveloped ports.
The ship's container carrying capabilities allowed the Army to move ammunition and other warfighter needs to the battle area more efficiently and effectively when the call comes for action. The ships join a fleet of more than 35 Afloat Prepositioning Force ships under MSC's operational control. At-sea prepositioning of combat equipment has become increasingly important as US bases overseas continue to close.
The civilian-crewed container ship is owned and operated by Maersk Lines Ltd. (MLL) of Norfolk, VA, and under a five-year charter to MSC. Maersk has a $65 million contract to operate the two vessels for five years. A unit of New Jersey-based Maersk Inc., the American arm of Denmark's A.P. Moller Group and one of the world's largest shipping firms, MLL is based in Norfolk's Riverside Commerce Center. The company employs 120 people and operates 53 vessels, nine of which are owned by MLL. The crewmembers on all of the vessels are United States Merchant Marine mariners.
The cost of converting the two commercial vessels into Sealift ships was included in the Maersk contract. Conversion work included installing climate- and fire-control systems, repairing rudders and sea valves, and repainting. The main work package includes the installation of four new MacGregor cranes, the modification of container cell guiders, installation of a cargo hold cooling water spray system and cargo hold environmental control system, wheel shafting and rudder and sea valve repaires. The ships operate from the Diego Garcia area in the Indian Ocean. The ship is approximately 950 feet long, slightly shorter than a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. The design is ideal for containerized cargo, and is able to carry 2,500 20-foot containers. Containerized ammunition is protected in ship's dehumidified, air conditioned environment. Four shipboard cranes ease loading and off-loading of ship, even in the most primitive ports.
The Army Materiel Command's Operations Support Command changed the way it stores ammunition for Army pre-positioned stocks (APS)-afloat. In the past, three lighterage aboard ship (LASH) vessels carried ammunition in a breakbulk barge configuration. Now, two modern containerships l carry ammunition in strategic configured loads that contain all the munitions needed by a deployed team, platoon, or company. Loads will support various armor, artillery, and aviation combat platforms. The break bulk ammunition (barge configuration) carried on three lighter aboard ship (LASH) vessels was converted to containerized strategic configured loads placed on two modern container ships. The climate controlled container ships are faster, have more capacity, and use standard containers, International Standards Organization (ISO) containers and M1 flatracks, to speed deployment times. Most strategic configured loads contain all the munitions needed for a deployed team, platoon, or company - this reduces the number of support personnel needed in the area of operation. The loads support various armor, artillery, and aviation combat platforms.
Three years in planning, the $36.5 million project was completed in July 2001. During the conversion, all the ammunition was removed from the ships SS Green Valley, SS Green Harbour and MV Jeb Stuart. The ammunition was then inspected, tested, maintained, bar coded, and loaded into climate controlled containers or onto M1 flatracks. When complete, the new loads were placed in ISO containers aboard the MV John U.D. Page and MV Eddie Carter. Nearly 70,000 tons of ammunition were transformed to the new configurations. It is a time saver for the 100,000 requisitions each month.
The off loading of ammunition from the Lighterage Aboard Ship SS Green Valley was completed 16 November 2000 at Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point, North Carolina. All of the ship's ammunition was removed from the storage barges, then inspected, tested, maintained, and bar-coded. Once bar-coded, the new ammunition Strategic Configured Loads began to be assembled. The upload of the Page began 26 February 2001, with completion March 9th. The ammunition bar-coding effort, led by the Munitions and Armaments Command, provides improved tracking of ammunition identification, conditions and history. The bar-codes use a new "2 Dimensional" 2D technology. The main advantage of using 2D bar codes is a large amount of data can ride with the item it is attached to. Older linear bar codes hold a piece of data, such as the national stock number or lot number. With 2D bar codes, large amounts of data are stored, such as the national stock numbers, lot numbers, and serial numbers for a load of ammunition. So with one pull on the scanner trigger, all the data is collected, not just a piece. A team of 35 people printed, applied and recorded 25,000 bar-code labels to the off loaded ammunition. The Multiple Launch Rocket System's off loaded from the ship were also bar coded, the first time they were scanned and recorded by serial number. There were at least four people on site installing and recording labels through July 2001 when the LASH conversion was complete. The bar code team then began to apply the 25 thousand labels made for ammunition from the next LASH conversion ship, the SS Green Harbour.
In January 1997, Army Sgt. 1st Class Edward A. Carter Jr. and six other World War II heroes became the first African American veterans of that war to receive Medals of Honor. That wasn't enough for the Carter family. Following the award of the nation's highest military honor for combat gallantry, Carter's family pressed for the answer to a 50-year-old mystery: Why had the Army barred him from re-enlisting in 1949. When they learned earlier this year that the Army's bar stemmed from a groundless concern he was a communist, they demanded justice and that his name be cleared. They got their wish 10 November 1999 when the Army apologized during ceremonies in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes.
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