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NASSCO Joins In Ceremony For Start Of Sealift Conversion Program

National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) of San Diego recently joined the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy in a joint ceremony to mark the beginning of the Navy Sealift Conversion Program.

In July 1993, NASSCO received a $635 million contract from the U.S. Navy to convert three containerships purchased from the Maersk shipping line to Strategic Sealift Ships.

The three ships will be converted into combined RoRo and lift-on/lift-off (LoLo) ships that strategically pre-position U.S. Army equipment and vehicles near potential areas of conflict.

Speaking at the ceremony were Lt. Gen. Johnnie E. Wilson, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, U.S. Army; A.B. "Ted" Ruhly, chairman of Maersk Lines Ltd.; and A1 Lutter, Jr., senior vice president of NASSCO. Gen. Wilson used a steel cutting torch to make the ceremonial "first cut" on the T-AKR 295 (formerly Laura Maersk), the first of three ships to be converted. The conversion process entails building six new cargo decks, installing internal and external access ramps, furnishing new cargo hatches for each deck, creating two side ports, and adding two twinboom cranes to allow the ships to lift their own cargo on and off.

NASSCO was also recently awarded a $265 million contract to design and build another Sealift Ship, with options to build five more for a total possible contract value of $1.3 billion.

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