LMSRs: Keeping US Troops Abroad Supplied with Heavy Equipment
US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan rely on the timely delivery of supplies and equipment to carry out their missions. One of the primary movers of heavy military equipment to that area of the world is the large medium-speed roll-on/ roll-off ship (LMSR) operated by the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command.
These ships need to head out at a moment’s notice. They require operation and maintenance support to keep them in top shape, ready to deliver supplies in theater when needed. To provide this support, the Navy awards large contracts to private companies…
The Military Sealift Command’s LMSR fleet consists of 19 US government-owned, noncombatant ships that help to offset the shortage of militarily useful cargo ships available in the commercial sector – a concern because US forces overseas depend increasingly on power projection.
Each civilian-crewed LMSR has more than 380,000 square feet of cargo-carrying capacity, enough room to play 5 football games at the same time. The ship also has reinforced decks, shipboard cranes, interior ramps, a slewing stern ramp and a movable ramp that services 2 side ports. These ramps can be used for fast loading and off-loading of large military equipment, including tanks, trucks, and Humvees.
Two 110-ton single pedestal twin cranes make it possible to load and unload cargo where shore-side infrastructure is limited or nonexistent. A commercial helicopter deck enables emergency daytime landing.
Features of the LMSRs ships include:
- Each LMSR can carry an entire US Army Task Force, including 58 tanks, 48 other tracked vehicles, as well as more than 900 trucks and other wheeled vehicles.
- The LMSRs are each crewed by approximately 30 civilian mariners who work for private companies under contract to the Military Sealift Command.
- Each LMSR has a slewing stern ramp and a removable ramp that services 2 side ports to drive vehicles on and off the ship.
- Interior ramps allow traffic flow between decks.
- Two single pedestal twin cranes which can jointly lift 110-tons make loading and off-loading possible where shoreside infrastructure is limited or nonexistent.
- A helicopter deck allows for emergency landings
The 19 LMSRs are divided into 4 classes: 2 Gordon-class, 2 Shughart-class, 7 Bob Hope-class, and 8 Watson-class.
The Gordon-class and Shughart-class ships were former container ships that were converted to the LMSR configuration. These LMSRs were delivered to Military Sealift Command in 1997. USNS Gordon (T-AKR 296) and USNS Gilliland (T-AKR 298) were converted by Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, VA, while 2 other ships – the USNS Shughart (T-AKR 295) and the USNS Yano (T-AKR 297) – were converted to LMSRs by National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. in San Diego, CA.
Another ship converted by National Steel and Shipbuilding – USNS Soderman (T-AKR 299) – was reconfigured and transferred to the Marine Prepositioning Force (MPF) in May 2000. It became a Maritime Prepositioning Force (Enhanced) ship and was renamed USNS Gunnery Sgt. Fred W. Stockham.
The 7 Bob Hope-class ships were built by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems’ Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA and delivered to the Navy between 1998 and 2003. They are:
- USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR 300)
- USNS Fisher (T-AKR 301)
- USNS Seay (T-AKR 302)
- USNS Mendonca (T-AKR 303)
- USNS Pililaau (T-AKR 304)
- USNS Brittin (T-AKR 305)
- USNS Benavidez (T-AKR 306)
The 8 Watson-class ships were built by National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. in San Diego, CA, and delivered between 1998 and 2002. They are:
- USNS Watson (T-AKR 310)
- USNS Sisler (T-AKR 311)
- USNS Dahl (T-AKR 312),
- USNS Red Cloud (T-AKR 313)
- USNS Charlton (T-AKR 314)
- USNS Watkins (T-AKR 315)
- USNS Pomeroy (T-AKR 316)
- USNS Soderman (T-AKR 317)
The Watson-class LMSRs preposition US Army equipment and supplies in strategic locations around the world, while the Gordon-class, Shughart-class and Bob Hope-class LMSRs are used for surge sealift. They are kept in readiness so that the ships can sail within 4 days of notice.
Contracts and Key Events
To keep those ships in a state of readiness, constant maintenance and operational support is needed. The Military Sealift Command awards lucrative contracts to private contractors to provide that support.
Unless otherwise noted, the contracts are awarded by the US Military Sealift Command in Washington, DC.
Jan 25/10: Patriot Contract Services in Walnut Creek, CA received a $13.7 million firm-fixed-price contracts for the operation and maintenance of 4 government-owned LMSRs. Two of the ships are Gordon-class, $6.8 million for 1 year, and 2 of the ships are Shughart-class, $6.8 million for 1 year. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $111.1 million; $55.5 million for the Gordon-class and $55.6 million for the Shughart-class. The contract includes 4 one-year option periods and 5 six-month award term periods.
Work will be performed at East Coast, Gulf Coast and West Coast ports where the ships will be primarily maintained in reduced operating status. The contract is expected to be completed in February 2011. If all option periods are exercised, the contract is expected to be completed by September 2017. This contract was a small business set-aside, with more than 50 companies solicited and 6 offers received (N00033-10-C-5301).
Jan 15/10: American Overseas Marine, a Quincy, MA-based unit of General Dynamics, received a $27.2 million firm-fixed-price contract for the operation and maintenance of 7 government-owned Bob Hope-class LMSRs. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $238.2 million.
The American Overseas Marine contract includes 4 one-year option periods and 5 six-month award term periods. For 6 of the 7 Bob Hope-class LMSRs, work will be performed at US East Coast, Gulf Coast and West Coast ports where the ships will be primarily maintained in reduced operating status. When needed, these 6 ships may be activated and fully crewed to transport US military equipment worldwide. For the 7th Bob Hope-class LMSR, work will be performed at sea in support of the US Marine Corps’ afloat prepositioning mission.
The contract is expected to be completed in February 2011; if all options are exercised, completion date will be September 2017. This contract was competitively procured with more than 50 proposals solicited and 7 offers received (N00033-10-C-5300).