MILITARY SEALIFT COMMAND SHIPS
39 WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG SEAPOWER ALMANAC 2015
More than 110 ships were in daily operation for Military Sealift Command (MSC) during fiscal 2014, delivering
combat cargo and petroleum products to U.S. and coalition
warfighters around the world. MSC kept the Navy’s fleets
replenished and underway, provided disaster and humanitarian
relief to those in need, shared expertise and techniques with
maritime partners in Central and South America and Africa,
provided special mission ships for a variety of Department of
Defense (DoD) customers, and operated prepositioned ships to
supply material to the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine
Corps in contingency operations.
Highlights for the year among MSC’s four mission areas include:
■ Combat Logistics Force (CLF): All CLF ships are government-owned and operated by civil service mariners (CIVMARs) working
for MSC. During fiscal 2014, CLF ships were at sea an average of
146 days for underway replenishment to Navy combatants.
The force pumped more than 460 million gallons of ship
propulsion and aviation fuels and delivered nearly 117,000 pallets of cargo, ammunition and stores for U.S. Navy and coalition
surface combatants in support of Operation Enduring Freedom
and other fleet missions. CLF ships also provided life-sustaining
supplies and medical treatment for humanitarian assistance and
disaster-relief operations abroad.
■ Service Support: MSC’s 19 Service Support Program ships
provide the Navy with towing, rescue and salvage, submarine
support and cable-laying/repair services, as well as a command-and-control platform and floating medical facilities. All ships are
government-owned and operated by CIVMARs. The submarine
tenders Emory S. Land and Frank Cable, command ship Mount
Whitney and the Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) Ponce
have combined crews of CIVMARs and uniformed Navy personnel working under a U.S. Navy commanding officer. CIVMARs on these ships perform navigation, deck, engineering, laundry and galley services, while military
crew members support communications,
weapons systems and security.
■ Special Mission: The Special Mission
Program operated a variety of seagoing platforms in fiscal 2014 to support U.S. government agencies, including the Oceanographer
of the Navy; Commander, Pacific Fleet;
Commander, Undersea Surveillance; the
Navy’s Strategic Systems Program Office;
Naval Special Warfare Command; the Navy’s
submarine forces; the U.S. Air Force; and the
Environmental Protection Agency.
Special Mission ships are operated by
civilian mariners employed by companies
under contract to MSC. Agency-provided
technicians, including U.S. military and
civilian personnel, performed the mission
work and specialized shipboard tasks. The
program also provided contract management support for Navy Installations
Command requirements for chartered harbor tugs and port operations.
■ Strategic Sealift: MSC combined its
Prepositioning and Sealift programs into
one, Strategic Sealift, on Oct. 1, 2014.
■ Prepositioning: At the conclusion of fis-
cal 2014, MSC operated 28 prepositioning
ships that strategically placed U.S. combat
equipment and supplies afloat around the globe, ready for rapid
delivery ashore when needed. Most of the ships were assigned to
sites in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific Ocean. Some prepo-
sitioning ships also were based at ports in the United States, pend-
ing completion of ship- or cargo-maintenance periods. Several
Maritime Prepositioning Force ships, two aviation logistics support
ships and several large, medium-speed roll-on/roll-off (LMSR)
ships were maintained in reduced operating status (ROS) on the
U.S. East and West coasts for at least part of the year.
■ Sealift: The Sealift portion of MSC’s Strategic Sealift Program
delivers the combat and other military cargo needed by U.S.
warfighters around the globe wherever and whenever needed. In
fiscal 2014, the program supported Operation Enduring Freedom,
military exercises and other day-to-day missions for the DoD.
The program consisted of nine government-owned/contractor-operated surge LMSRs, three long-term chartered dry cargo ships
and three long-term chartered tankers, one government-owned
tanker and two high-speed transports in fiscal 2014. The program
also chartered additional short-term or voyage-chartered ships. In
addition, the program had access to 46 ships of the Ready Reserve
Force (RRF), a fleet of militarily useful ships maintained in ROS
for use as surge sealift assets at ports in the United States. The RRF
is owned and maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration. (See page 152 for a list of
By policy, MSC must first look to the U.S.-flag commercial
market to meet its sealift requirements. Government-owned
ships are used only when suitable U.S.-flag commercial vessels
Note: MSC ships carry the prefix USNS unless otherwise noted.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill, left,
participates in an underway replenishment with the Military Sealift Command
Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Lenthhall Nov. 5 during exercise Bold Alligator 2014 in the Atlantic Ocean.