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T-AKR 295 Shughart
Large, Medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships [LMSR]

Military Sealift Command's Large, Medium-speed, Roll-on/Roll-off Ships, or LMSR - significantly expanded American sealift capability in the 1990s. Nineteen LMSRs were converted or built at US shipyards by the year 2001. The LMSRs provide afloat prepositioning of an Army heavy brigade's equipment and a corps' combat support, as well as surge capability for lift of a heavy division's equipment from the United States. As wide and long as the FSS, the LMSRs carry almost twice the cargo because of the hull design and number of decks. Pedestal cranes and both side and stern ramps mean that the LMSR is ideally suited for undeveloped ports or logistics over the shore.

The need for additional military sealift ships was identified in a Congressionally-mandated study by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the early 1990s. The Mobility Requirements Study focused on Department of Defense transportation during the Persian Gulf War. It highlighted the urgent need for greater sealift capacity to transport military equipment and supplies during wartime and other national contingencies. In response to the sealift shortfall, an ambitious Strategic Sealift Acquisition Program was introduced. Plans called for adding 19 LMSRs which will provide five million square feet of capacity early in the next century.

The LMSR program of 19 ships included five which were conversions of existing commercial container vessels, and 14 of which are newly constructed ships. All 19 ships use common cargo handling systems, procured by the Navy. LMSRs were built by three contractors. A performance type procurement description was used, therefore specific ship configurations differ as the respective builders interpret the mission requirements.

During the initial Design Phase, the bidding shipyards conducted conceptual design studies in response to Navy-developed performance requirements and commercial standards. These concepts, along with additional design work by the Navy, were used to refine the performance requirements for use in the next phase of the program. In the Engineering Design Phase, five U.S. shipyards selected existing ships as conversion candidates and developed detailed proposals for their conversion into Large, Medium Speed RO/RO's (LMSR's) which met the refined requirements. At the end of this phase, two shipyards were authorized to proceed with the Detail Design and Conversion of five existing ships.

On 30 July 1993, National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) was authorized to proceed with the Detail Design and Conversion of three existing containerships. The NASSCO project converted three commercial "L" Class containerships to militarily useful RO/RO's for prepositioning and transport of tanks, trucks, and other military equipment. Two more ships were converted at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Newport News, Virginia. These roll-on/roll-off vessels are operated by Bay Ship Management, Inc. under US Navy Military Sealift Command charter, and are manned by US Merchant Marine personnel.

LMSRs can carry an entire U.S. Army Task Force, including 58 tanks, 48 other track vehicles, plus more than 900 trucks and other wheeled vehicles. The ship carries vehicles and equipment to support humanitarian missions, as well as combat missions. The new construction vessels have a cargo carrying capacity of more than 380,000 square feet, equivalent to almost eight football fields. In addition, LMSRs have a slewing stern ramp and a removable ramp which services two side ports making it easy to drive vehicles on and off the ship. Interior ramps between decks ease traffic flow once cargo is loaded aboard ship. Two 110-ton single pedestal twin cranes make it possible to load and unload cargo where shoreside infrastructure is limited or nonexistent. A commercial helicopter deck was added for emergency, daytime landing.

The LMSR ships are Large (950 feet long, 106 feet wide, 55,000 long ton displacement), Medium Speed (24 knots), Roll-on/Roll-off (RO/RO) vessels. The sealift ships will be capable of self-sustained RO/RO and Lift on/Lift off (LO/LO) operations at a pier and in a Logistics-Over-the Shore (LOTS) scenario through stern and side port ramps to a RO/RO Discharge Facility (RRDF). In addition, the LMSR will be capable of self-sustained LO/LO cargo operations in a LOTS scenario by interfacing with lighterage. The LMSR ships are not armed, and do not have a combat system. They do have C3I suite sufficient to perform their intended mission in conjunction with other Naval vessels.

Four cargo holds (Hold 1, Hold 2, Hold 3, and Hold 4) are located forward of the main machinery space and one cargo hold (Hold 5) is located aft of the main machinery space. Weathertight cargo hatches for Holds 2, 3, and 4 are located on 01 Deck (weather deck). The cargo hatchways for Holds 3 and 4 provide access to E Deck, while hatchways for Hold 2 provide access to D Deck. No hatch or hatchways are provided for LO/LO access to Holds 1 and 5. In addition, weather deck cargo space is available on the 02 Deck, aft of the superstructure.

Although their official homeport is Norfolk, VA, the ships of Afloat Prepositioning Ships Squadron Four are always forward-deployed to the Persian Gulf and have no tie whatsoever to Virginia. The normal operational schedule for the ships is to be at anchor off Bahrain 75 percent of the time with some underway time in the Persian Gulf.

Eleven LMSRs, delivered by the end of FY 2001, are maintained in a 4-day Reduced Operating Status (ROS-4) as recommended by the OSD published Requirements Study (MRS) and the MRS Bottom-Up Review Update (MRS BURU). These ships provide the initial surge sealift Mobility Requirements Study (MRS) and the MRS Bottom-Up Review Update (MRS BURU). These ships provide the initial capacity required transport the lead combat forces from CONUS to a given area of operations and satisfy time critical warfighting surge sealift capacity required to transport the lead combat forces from CONUS to a given area of operations. The criteria for each readiness status was also specified in the MRS (i.e. Outporting, Sea/Dock Trials, critical warfighting requirements. The criteria for each readiness status was also specified in the MRS (i.e. Outporting, Maintenance). ROS-4 ships have a cadre crew assigned, outported at a layberth, and undergo annual sea trials, periodic dock Sea/Dock Trials, Maintenance). ROS-4 ships have a cadre crew assigned, outported at a layberth, and undergo annual sea trials, and required periodic regulatory drydockings/inspections.trials, periodic dock trials, and required periodic regulatory drydockings/inspections. Cost data incrementally increases as ships are delivered to the fleet and undergo an initial post delivery crew familarization/warranty maintenance period.

One of two MSC LMSRs working Balkan operations, USNS Soderman, arrived 03 July 1999 to off-load in Greece to support the movement of 7,000 troops to Kosovo as part of Operation Joint Guardian. Following Joint Guardian operations, Soderman returned to the US and was held in reserve, ready to sealift combat equipment if called.

In May 2000 National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO), a General Dynamics company, received a contract valued at up to $22 million to complete the second phase of a program to convert a U.S. Navy Strategic Sealift Program ship to meet the enhanced readiness capabilities of the US Marine Corps' Maritime Prepositioning Force. The ship to be converted, the USNS Soderman (T-AKR 299), arrived at NASSCO on Monday, May 8, and work was to be completed by 01 March 2001. The conversion includes adding living quarters for 50 Marines, changing the stern ramp to an in-water ramp, and upgrading the helicopter landing platform to an all-weather flight deck, among other changes. A $230-million contract for construction of a new LMSR, T-AKR 317, to replace the Soderman in the Navy's combat prepositioning fleet was awarded to NASSCO in February 2000.

The Maritime Prepositioning Force (Enhanced), or MPF(E), program added a Maritime Prepositioning Ship, or MPS, to each of the three MPS squadrons. The three MPF(E) ships, unlike the current MPF ships, are converted ships that are owned by the Navy. As part of this program, on 16 January 2001 T-AKR 299 Soderman was redesignated STOCKHAM (T-AK 3017). The name "Soderman" was re-assigned to T-AKR 317. The new name honors Gunnery Sergeant Fred W. Stockham, USMC (1881-1918) for heroism during the Battle of Belleau Wood. During an enemy bombardment, Sergeant Stockham noticed that a wounded comrade's gas mask had been shot away. Without hesitation and despite the presence of lethal gas, he gave his gas mask to the stricken marine and continued to assist in the evacuation of the wounded. He eventually collapsed from the effects of the gas which proved fatal several days later. One previous navy ship, STOCKHAM (DD 683)(1944-1957), was named in honor of Gunnery Sergeant Stockham. She earned eight battle stars during a World War II career that included participation in the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

The Military Sealift Command deployed LMSR ships extensively for transport of Army equipment to support operations against Iraq in 2003. The performance of the ships in these actual operations provides additional support for the conclusions as to their effectiveness and suitability.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 12:59:29 ZULU