Because T-AOs often are continuously operating and
do not have homeports, the crew members are assigned
for a minimum of four months, after which they receive
one to two months off. They then might be assigned to
another ship, even of another class or mission, such as an
ammunition ship or fleet tug. There is no shore rotation
as Navy Sailors have. Leave is calculated on the same
basis as other civil service employees, except that
CIVMARs earn two additional days per month.
“There is a lot of variety and a lot of opportunity for
promotions,” Cunningham said. “A lot of goodness for
our civil service mariners is that we do have that vari-
ety of ships and flexibility in assignments.”
That variety of ships creates a training challenge,
“We’re also responsible for all of the training on all of
the ships. It is getting more and more specialized. We
overtrain so that people could handle more flexibility,
they could go to an ammo ship or a T-AO. Some people
will settle out. They like the T-AOs and they prefer to go
back to the T-AOs. We like to put people on the ship class
they want to be on. But we do train for multiple platforms
to give us that flexibility when needed,” he said.
The standard CIVMAR training across all ships —
damage control and firefighting, for example — is
conducted in New Jersey and California. Training on
the equipment specific to the T-AOs is conducted at
commercial facilities, mainly the original equipment
The potential master of a T-AO starts out as third
mate and progresses through second mate and chief
mate to master, a position that requires a master’s
license issued by the Coast Guard. A promotion board
considers for the master billets, makes selections and
forwards the list to the MSC commander for approval.
Assignments are then made to individual ships.
A master of a T-AO also requires a tankerman person-in-charge qualification to transfer dangerous liquids at
sea, said CAPT Robert Baus, the East Coast port captain
Baus is in one of four CIVMAR shore billets that are
one-year-long rotations. Two of the billets are port captains and two are port engineers, one for each coast,
respectively, but all four are based at MCS headquarters
in Norfolk, Va. They keep MSC in touch with the fleet
on CIVMAR needs, Cunningham said.
The average age of the Kaisers is around 23 years
and maintenance issues come to the fore at times.
“We run them a lot differently than a destroyer, so a
23-year-old oiler compared to a 23-year-old Burke
[class destroyer] probably has three times as much run
time on the equipment,” George said. “You have an age
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 56 SEAPOWER / JULY/AUGUST 2015
MH-60S Seahawk helicopters assigned to the Sea Knights of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22 transport supplies
from the Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Arctic to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore
Roosevelt during an April 19 vertical replenishment in the U.S. Fifth Fleet area of operations.