America is leading the global effort to end the Ebola outbreak in West Africa
. And part of the Obama Administration's whole-of-government response has included some recent heavy lifting by two ships from the Maritime Administration's (MARAD) Ready Reserve Force
, the M/V Cape Rise and the M/V Cape Wrath.
Today, the volunteer civilian mariners crewing the Cape Rise and Cape Wrath are home for the holidays.
Last month, the two vessels – the Cape Rise at the Port of Beaumont, Texas, and the Cape Wrath at the Port of Jacksonville, Fla. – were loaded with cargo: Humvees, forklifts, supplies and other equipment carried to West Africa in support of Operation United Assistance, aimed at providing relief to patients and helping stop the spread of the virus. Some of the machinery, for example, is being used to build specially-designed Ebola Treatment Units in Liberia.
After delivering the cargo, the two vessels then returned to their respective ports of lading back in the U.S., offloaded surplus that had not been used in the mission and had never left the ship, and headed to their home ports. The Cape Wrath arrived in Baltimore last week, and the Cape Rise reached Portsmouth, Virginia, yesterday.
The two Motor Vessels are part of MARAD's Ready Reserve Force (RRF), a 46-vessel fleet on-call to support the rapid worldwide deployment of U.S. military forces and supplies for national defense, foreign humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief. The force plays a key role in the Military Sealift Command during strategic sealifts. Like the crew of the Cape Ray, the RRF ship that recently performed so well in its mission to destroy Syrian chemical weapons, the U.S. merchant mariners crewing the Cape Rise and Cape Wrath are trained to perform these critical duties and prepared to leave their families on a moment's notice on behalf of the nation.
When they all come home after this extended deployment, they will do so safely and healthily, having accomplished their goal of supporting the international effort to stop the spread of Ebola. With their sacrifice, they have given a gift of hope to the people of West Africa and support for a mission that will keep on giving as we continue working to eliminate the threat of Ebola.