Eight Fast Sealift Ships are being transferred from the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command to the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration. Fast Sealift Ships are currently the fastest cargo ships in the world, capable of speeds in excess of 30 knots. They are capable of sailing from the U.S. East Coast to Europe in just six days and to the Persian Gulf via the Suez Canal in 18 days, thus ensuring rapid delivery of military equipment in a crisis. Combined, all eight Fast Sealift Ships can carry nearly all the equipment needed to outfit a full Army mechanized division.
“These ships will greatly enhance the capability of the Ready Reserve Force to support the U.S. Armed Forces,” said Maritime Administrator Sean T. Connaughton. “The United States relies on sealift to support action in crises and emergencies all over the world, and the Ready Reserve Force and its merchant mariners are standing by when needed.”
Custody of the U.S. Navy Ships Algol, Altair, Antares, Bellatrix, Capella, Denebola, Pollux, and Regulus was transferred to the Maritime Administration on October 1, 2007. The ships will be maintained in a 5-day readiness status in the Ready Reserve Force, able to activate within 120 hours from notification and be ready for sea. Full title to the ships will be transferred to the Maritime Administration October 1, 2008.
The Maritime Administration maintains the Ready Reserve Force fleet, located throughout the country, in a reserve status in the event that the Department of Defense needs these ships to support the rapid, massive movement of military supplies and troops for a military exercise or large-scale conflict. The ships are managed by commercial companies and crewed by civilian merchant mariners
. With the addition of the eight Fast Sealift Ships, there will be 52 ships in the RRF.