The fleet of tankers operated by the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command is being reconfigured to meet fuel requirements in support of U.S. forces worldwide. This seagoing force of government-owned and U.S.-flagged chartered ships is acquiring a new chartered ship, MT Empire State, as two government-owned ships complete their service to the command.
The newly built, U.S.-flagged Empire State came under charter to MSC for up to five years today and will operate worldwide carrying refined petroleum products for DOD, primarily between commercial refineries and DOD storage and distribution facilities. Empire State is owned and operated by a private shipping company under contract to MSC.
Built at General Dynamics, NASSCO in San Diego, the double-hulled Empire State is 600 feet long and has a cargo-carrying capacity of approximately 331,000 barrels. The ship's construction was completed in July 2010, at which time Empire State went to work for MSC under a short-term charter.
A second State-class tanker is currently under construction at NASSCO and is expected to come under charter to MSC in early 2011.
Two of MSC's four government-owned tankers transferred out of service Oct. 1. USNS Paul Buck and USNS Samuel L. Cobb began their service to MSC in the mid 1980s, along with three other new-construction T-5 tankers that came under long-term charter to the command in 1985 and 1986. In 2003, MSC purchased four of those ships - Buck, Cobb, USNS Lawrence H. Gianella and USNS Richard G. Matthiesen. Since then, these ships have served as the core of MSC's tanker fleet along with an MSC-chartered shallow-draft tanker.
"Our T-5 tankers have served us well for the past 25 years, and as they approach the end of their service lives, the State-class ships will allow us to continue to fulfill our requirements to transport fuel for the Defense Logistics Agency - Energy," said John Joerger, MSC's tanker project officer. DLA Energy procures and manages fuel for all of DOD.
Upon deactivation from MSC service, Cobb and Buck transferred to the U.S. Maritime Administration's National Defense Reserve Fleet, which comprises about 30 dry cargo ships and tankers kept in reserve for possible activation and use in support of national defense and national emergencies.
Gianella transferred to MSC's Maritime Prepositioning Force in 2009 and Matthiesen will remain in service to MSC until early 2011, when the ship will join Cobb and Buck in the NDRF.
In fiscal year 2010, MSC carried 1.5 billion gallons of petroleum products worldwide in support of DOD operations ranging from delivering fuel to combat forces operating in Iraq to replenishing McMurdo Station, Antarctica and Thule Air Force Base in Pituffik, Greenland.