Recently, I organized a letter from former Maritime Administration (MarAd) political appointees to House and Senate appropriators asking them to recapitalize the nation’s sealift fleet—the ships designated to support the rapid worldwide deployment of soldiers and Marines. The rust-bucket Cold War-era ships that comprise the fleet have degraded significantly, posing a threat to deployed military personnel and to U.S. national security.
The Maritime Administration manages the Ready Reserve Fleet (RRF), 50 percent of the government-owned surge sealift capability. It comprises 46 vessels: 35 roll-on/roll off (RO/RO) vessels, including 8 fast sealift support (FSS) vessels; 2 heavy-lift or barge-carrying ships; 6 auxiliary craneships; 1 tanker; and 2 aviation repair vessels. They are berthed in a variety of locations to minimize sailing times to strategic locations: Tacoma, Suisun Bay, Alameda, Oakland, Long Beach, San Diego, Beaumont, Marrero, New Orleans, Charleston, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. The vessels are supposed to be able to be made fully operational within their assigned 5 or 10 day readiness status.