First of Three Fast Sealift Ships Delivered
The U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command recently took delivery of three Fast Sealift Ships (FSS), part of an eight-ship package comprising the Navy's Fast Sealift Ship program designed to increase the mobility and responsiveness of the Armed Forces. These vessels are conversions of the high-speed SL-7 containerships that Sea-Land Service sold to the Navy in 1982 for a total of $271 million for the eight ships.
The first ship, USNS Algol, was delivered by National Steel and Shipbuilding Company on June 22. The second, USNS Capella, (MR/EN 7/1/84 p. 50) was delivered by Pennsylvania Shipbuilding July 1. The third ship, USNS Antares, was delivered by Avondale Shipyards on July 12. The fourth ship, USNS Bellatrix is scheduled for delivery at the end of October this year. The final four SL-7s are now undergoing conversion and will be delivered in 1985 and early 1986.
The conversion of the SL-7s to FSS ships will give them RO/RO capability, side ports to facilitate rapid loading and unloading operations, medium- and heavy-lift cargo-handling equipment for selfsustaining capability that will enable the ships to handle cargo independent of a port facility, and an emergency helicopter landing area.
The Military Sealift Command has awarded a $1.7-million, oneyear firm contract with four oneyear options to Sealift Terminals, Inc. of Jacksonville to provide berthing of the 946-foot-long Antares and Capella, while the other two FSS ships will be berthed at Violet Dock Port, Inc. near New Orleans under a $1.9-million contract.
Sea-Land Service, Inc. has been awarded a $19.7-million, three-year contract for the manning, operation, and maintenance of the first four FSS ships. At the two berthing ports, the ships will be maintained in a four-day, readyfor- sea status. Dock and sea trials will be held periodically. In addition, each ship will participate in military exercises as required. Military Sealift Command's primary responsibility is to provide the necessary sealift to deploy and sustain military forces overseas, as rapidly and for as long as operational requirements dictate. The Fast Sealift Ships will greatly enhance that MSC capability. The Command also operates auxiliary ships that deliver supplies to Navy combatant ships while under way, oceanographic and survey vessels, missile trackers, a navigational support ship, ,a cable layer, tankers, and dry cargo ships that deliver Defense Department cargo worldwide.