Eight ships from MARAD’s National Defense Reserve Fleet are serving in the national effort to recover from Hurricane Katrina. Two Ready Reserve Force ship
s have stood firm in New Orleans, their home port. The Cape Kennedy
has provided office space for the operations of the Port of New Orleans; the Cape Knox
has supported that effort, and is now fully crewed and ready to sail to support cleanup efforts. Three state maritime academy training ships will provide housing and support for port workers and petroleum industry workers, and three more Ready Reserve Force ships will help underpin the area’s economic recovery.
The crane ship Diamond State is in New Orleans; the crane ship Equality State will sail on Tuesday for Gulfport, MS; both aim to help restore the cities’ port operations. The Ready Reserve Force ship Wright, a helicopter repair ship which can provide support for offshore helicopter activity and house more than 325 people, is also headed for New Orleans.
The Training Ship Sirius has arrived in New Orleans from the Texas Maritime Academy in Galveston and is serving as accommodation and offices for personnel. The Training Ship Empire State has been sent from the State University of New York Maritime Academy to provide accommodation and offices to help stabilize operations of the Conoco-Phillips refinery in Belle Chase, LA. The Training Ship State of Maine, on its way from the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, ME, will also provide living and office space.
The Ready Reserve Force is a fleet of militarily useful ships, usually used to support the U.S. Armed Forces in time of war or national emergency. RRF ships have frequently been activated to help in recovery efforts from disasters overseas, but this is the first time they have been activated to assist in recovery from a domestic disaster. All RRF ships are crewed by U.S. civilian merchant mariners. MARAD also provides training ships for all six state maritime academies; the RRF ships and training ships are all part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet, which MARAD runs.
This deployment also marks the first time that a Secretary of Transportation requested release of RRF vessels by the Department of Defense