MSC Welcomes Newest Ship

Friday, June 21, 2002
The U.S. Navy transferred USS Arctic, a fast combat support ship, to the operational control of Military Sealift Command. Arctic went from a Sailor-crewed combatant ship to a civilian-crewed, noncombatant ship during a ceremony held June 14 in Earle, N.J. The ship, now known as USNS Arctic to designate her new status as part of the Navy's Military Sealift Command, will join more than 30 other civilian-crewed MSC ships that provide at-sea logistic support to the Navy fleet. "Today marks a change of operators for USS Arctic, but not a change of mission. Military Sealift Command combat logistics ships continue to allow the U.S. Navy to arrive on station and remain as long as needed," said Rear Adm. David L. Brewer III, USN, Commander, Military Sealift Command, speaking at the ceremony, which included Read Adm. Lindell G. Rutherford, USN, Commander, Carrier Group Four.

Arctic is the second fast combat support ship to transfer from USS to USNS status. Supply was the first to make the change last July. This class of ship provides fuel, ammunition and food to ships underway. Arctic, like all ships in its class, is 754 feet long and has a beam of 107 feet. With a top speed of 25 knots, she is ideal for fast resupply at sea. Two more ships, USS Rainier and USS Bridge, are scheduled to be reassigned to MSC's control in the next two years. When they are, the Navy will realize an estimated annual savings of $75 million in operating costs. Arctic, which as a Navy ship was crewed by a complement of 544 sailors, will now have a civilian crew of 176 mariners. By cutting the crew in half, operating costs are lowered dramatically. Those mariners will be accompanied by a small military department of 28 Sailors for communication support and supply coordination. An additional 31 Sailors will be aboard to support helicopter operations. Crewing the ship with civilian mariners allows more uniformed sailors to be reassigned to critical billets aboard combatant ships in the Navy's fleet doing the war-fighting jobs they joined the Navy to perform. Civilian mariners aboard Arctic are able to spend more days at sea as they are not limited by deployment cycle policies that pertain to their uniformed counterparts. Therefore, Arctic, like her sister ships, will be able to spend more days at sea each year, increasing the ship's service to the fleet. The ceremony to transfer Arctic included a formal decommissioning as a USS ship and naming as a USNS ship. Both outgoing commanding officer of USS Arctic, Capt. Garry R. White, USN, and incoming civilian master of USNS Arctic, Capt. Ed Nanartowich, participated in the ceremony. The ceremony has broader significance than Arctic's transfer to MSC. The change is part of MSC's acquisition of the entire Navy Combat Logistics Force. MSC already operates the Navy's oilers, ammunition ships and combat stores ships.

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