US Bolsters Its Sealift and Tanker Support Fleets
The United States has bolstered its fleet of U.S.-flagged sustainment sealift vessels and product tankers to support the Department of Defense (DoD) during times of armed conflict or national emergency.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) in recent months has been building up fleets of commercial vessels under its Maritime Security Program (MSP) and Tanker Security Program (TSP), and on Tuesday it announced full enrollment in each.
The newly selected MSP vessels Liberty Power and Tulane operate under Liberty Global Logistics, LLC of Lake Success, N.Y. and American Roll-On Roll-Off Carrier Group Inc.'s (ARC) shipowning component Fidelio Limited Partnership of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., respectively. The U.S.-flagged Liberty Power is a 12-year-old roll-on roll-off vessel (RO/RO), with 220,586 square feet of militarily useful cargo capacity and the Tulane is an 11-year-old RO/RO vessel with 194,665 square feet of militarily useful cargo capacity. The Tulane is scheduled to reflag under U.S. registry by the end of this year and will be renamed the ARC Honor.
The final product tanker selected for TSP is the Pyxis Epsilon under U.S. Marine Management, LLC of Norfolk, Va. The eight-year-old, 325,000 barrel tanker is scheduled to reflag under U.S. registry by the end of this year and will be renamed the Shenandoah Trader.
“In peacetime, our U.S.-flagged commercial fleet serves as a critical link in our supply chain; and in times of war and crisis, it supports military missions around the globe,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “In the years ahead, these vessels will deliver vital goods, strengthen both our economy and our national security, and create good jobs for American mariners.”
“MSP and TSP accomplish two key maritime sealift objectives: both grow our U.S.-flagged commercial fleet to benefit the U.S. economy, and both sustain our ability to deliver vital supplies to support military missions across the globe,” said Maritime Administrator Ann Phillips. “MSP has been a success story for the U.S. maritime industry for over 27 years. MSP, together with its sister program TSP, will support U.S. economic competitiveness globally, and ensure U.S. armed forces have unquestioned logistics access anywhere in the world. The award of these three final Operating Agreements will ensure the programs’ continued success and value to the United States.”
The MSP was established in 1996, to strengthen the U.S. supply chain by ensuring a viable presence for the U.S.-flag Merchant Marine in international trade while creating good-paying jobs both afloat and ashore, MARAD said. The program now supports a fleet of 60 commercial ships operating internationally. The recently established TSP supports a fleet of 10 commercial product tankers operating internationally and capable of loading, transporting, and storing on-station bulk petroleum refined products to support national economic security and DoD contingency requirements. Both programs also help address the shortage of both U.S.-flag ships and U.S. Coast Guard-credentialed mariners with unlimited licenses.
“These vessels are pivotal in enhancing global readiness and safeguarding our nation's supply chains. Both MSP and TSP underscore our steadfast commitment to national security and economic stability and exemplifies the indispensable partnership between MARAD and USTRANSCOM,” said Commander of U.S. Transportation Command, Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost.
Commenting on the selection of the soon-to-be-renamed ARC Honor, Eric Ebeling, ARC president and CEO, said, “This tremendously capable and flexible U.S.-flag ship will be crewed by American merchant mariners and operate in our global network supporting America’s national defense and economic security through trade.”