Military Sealift Command-chartered heavy lift crane ship MV Ocean Titan delivered the second of a new class of U.S.-built patrol boats to Manama, Bahrain, today. The 115-foot boat is destined for Iraq, where it will be turned over to the Iraqi navy and used primarily to patrol coastal waters and provide security for the country’s oil platforms.
This is the second of an expected 15 identical vessels being built for and delivered to the Iraqi navy in support of U.S. and Iraqi efforts to reconstitute Iraq’s ability to enforce its maritime sovereignty and security. The Iraqi navy acquired the boats as part of the U.S. Navy’s Foreign Military Sales Program.
“Our foreign partners rely on the U.S. Navy’s expertise in combatant craft acquisition,” said Rear Adm. David Lewis, who, as the Navy’s program executive officer for ships, oversees the acquisition of all U.S. Navy surface ships. “This assistance represents a commitment for continued cooperation between the United States and our partners.” Because the boat was designed to operate within 200 miles from shore, it was not equipped to make the more than 11,000-mile, open-ocean voyage to its final destination in Iraq from the shipyard where it was built in Morgan City, La., on its own power.
This is where MSC came in.
“MSC has a long history of chartering specialized commercial vessels to transport U.S. navy ships across the ocean and of overseeing those lifts from pick-up to delivery,” said Timothy Pickering, cargo project officer in MSC’s Sealift Program. “The most well-known of these moves was the lift bringing USS Cole home to the U.S. from Yemen following the October 2000 terrorist attack that rendered the ship unable to sail.” MSC headquarters’ Sealift Program received the requirement to transport the Iraqi patrol boat on Oct. 7 and awarded the contract for the lift to the 390-foot Ocean Titan just ten days later. Only four weeks after that, Ocean Titan and its cargo arrived safely in Bahrain.
While the patrol boat is in Bahrain, a team of personnel from the U.S. Navy’s Program Executive Office Ships and the commercial shipbuilder that built the patrol boat will complete work on it before sailing it to Iraq for turnover to the Iraqi navy.
The Iraqi navy christened the first of these 15 patrol boats Sept. 26 during an Iraq Navy Day ceremony at Umm Qasr Naval Base, Iraq. The patrol boats have a top speed of 30 knots and will be crewed by up to 12 Iraqi sailors.
MSC will deliver the next patrol boat in early 2011.
MSC operates approximately 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.