Military Sealift Command dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Richard E. Byrd entered the waters of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, marking the first Lewis and Clark-class multi-product combat logistics support ship in service to the 52 million-square-mile region. Byrd replaces MSC combat stores ship USNS Niagara Falls, which has been forward deployed supporting 7th Fleet since 1994.
Though the entry into the fleet’s territorial waters was unceremonious, it signals a significant change for Logistics Group Western Pacific, also know as Commander Task Force 73, which will operationally control the ship while in theater.
The 689-ft.-long underway replenishment vessel, known as a T-AKE, replaces the current capability of the Kilauea-class ammunition ships and Mars-class combat stores ships, and it also possesses the capability to refuel ships at sea.
Byrd has a crew of 124 civil service mariners working for MSC as well as a military detachment of 11 sailors who provide operational support and supply coordination. When needed, Byrd can also carry a supply detachment.