The U.S. Department of Transportation's
Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced last week that it has awarded
contracts to Crowley Liner Services of Jacksonville, Fla., and Marine
Transport Lines of Secaucus, N.J., to manage 11 and six Ready Reserve Force
(RRF) ships respectively. Both companies are independent subsidiaries of
Crowley Maritime Corporation.
In total, MARAD has an all-cargo fleet of 54 RRF ships maintained by nine
American owned and operated ship management firms.
"We have seen first hand that the Ready Reserve Force provides
a vital link
to the men and women of the armed services by carrying thousands of military
vehicles, aircraft and other materiel to support operations in Afghanistan
and Iraq," U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said. "This is an
extremely cost-effective and well-run program that keeps us prepared to
rapidly respond to the military's needs."
"We've been honored to manage ships for MARAD for the past several years,"
said Tom Crowley, Jr., chairman, president and CEO. "I think these newly
awarded contracts reflect the fact that our people have done an excellent
job crewing, maintaining and operating these ships safely for the
administration. Our labor unions, which include the Seafarers International
Union, American Maritime Officers and the Marine Engineers Beneficial
Association are also to be commended for their good work and efforts to make
this a successful operation. We look forward to providing many more years of
The RRF ships are kept in a high state of readiness at 15 ports located on
the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts of the United States
. Some ships
also are kept in a pre-positioned status overseas. Crowley managed vessels
have home ports in Baltimore, Houston, Tacoma, Long Beach, San Diego and
Most of the new ship management contracts are built on a four-year base
period and include two three-year extension options that will be based on
the company's performance. Crowley and other management firms are
responsible for keeping the ships in a constant state of readiness and
getting the ships fully crewed with U.S-citizen merchant mariners when an
activation call goes out.
"The Ready Reserve Force has moved an extraordinary amount of cargo over the
past several years and our nation's maritime industry has kept this fleet in
good working order and worked diligently to show its value," Acting Maritime
Administrator John Jamian said.
The Ready Reserve Force was established in 1976 and was significantly
strengthened after the Gulf War in 1991 in order to ensure the military's
continued access to cargo capacity. Many of the ships have unique
capabilities and have been used for humanitarian missions such as carrying
aid to Haiti and participating in the December 2004 tsunami relief efforts.