Thursday, December 23, 2010

US Navy Charters Commercial Tankers

The US Navy's Military Sealift Command (MSC) is chartering two newly built US-flag commercial tankers to replace a number of its older T-5 class ships that have been meeting the fuel requirements of US forces stationed overseas. The first of the vessels, the 600-foot Empire State, entered MSC service under a short-term charter agreement in mid-2010. Its contract has now been extended for five years and it will be joined by a sister vessel, Evergreen State.

Both ships are products of the NASSCO shipyard at San Diego, California and have a capacity of approximately 331,000 barrels. They are replacing two of the MSC's four government-owned T-5 class tankers, USNS Paul Buck and USNS Samuel L. Cobb, which have been transferred into the US National Defense Reserve Fleet (NSRF). Of the service’s remaining two T-5s, the USNS Lawrence H. Gianella has been transferred to MSC's Maritime Prepositioning Force while USNS Richard G. Matthiesen will join Cobb and Buck in the NDRF next year.

All four T-5s were built in the mid-1980s and operated under long-term charters from private owners until they were purchased by the MSC in 2003.

MSC-operated tankers carried 1.5 billion gallons of petroleum products worldwide last year, including replenishing trips through ice to the McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica and the Thule Air Force Base in Greenland.