Image courtesy Crowley Maritime Corporation

Crowley Awarded Contract to Manage Vessel Acquisitions for MARAD’s Ready Reserve Force

Mike Schuler
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July 28, 2021

The U.S. Maritime Administration has awarded Crowley Maritime Corporation with a multi-year, $638 million Vessel Acquisitions Management contract.

As the Vessel Acquisition Manager, Crowley will assist MARAD in acquiring and managing vessels for the Ready Reserve Force (RRF), helping to reduce the overall age of the fleet and increase ship reliability.

Crowley says it will use a new, proprietary IT system to perform data analysis of the lifecycle of vessels and their components in order to assess and make purchasing recommendations to MARAD. It will then oversee any required re-flagging, re-classification, modification and maintenance to ensure compliance with U.S. Coast Guard, American Bureau of Shipping, and Defense Department requirements. After ships enter the fleet, it will maintain and operate the vessels on behalf of MARAD.

“A successful VAM program is important to the U.S. as a maritime nation, the maritime industry and Crowley as we mutually invest in the strength of our nation,” said Mike Golonka, vice president, government ship management in Crowley Solutions. “We want to share our innovative, successful approach to vessel ownership and lifecycle engineering with the U.S. government.”

The Ready Reserve Force (RRF) is a subset of vessels within MARAD’s National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) that provide surge sealift capability to the Department of Defense. The fleet currently consists of 41 vessels, comprising 33 roll-on/roll off vessels including 8 Fast Sealift Support (FSS) vessels, 1 heavy-lift or barge carrying ships, 4 auxiliary craneships, 1 tanker, and 2 aviation repair vessels, according to MARAD’s website. The ships are owned, crewed, and maintained by MARAD, but come under control of Military Sealift Command once activated.

In September 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Transportation Command ordered a large-scale turbo activation of the Ready Reserve Force to “stress test” the fleet’s ability to transition from reduced operating status to fully crewed and full operating status within 5-days. Of the 28 vessels participating, only about 60 percent were considered “ready” and 40 percent were able to get underway in the allotted time.

The contract to Crowley is another example of MARAD outsourcing project management roles to a private company. In 2019, the agency awarded TOTE Services with the contract to serve as the Vessel Construction Manager for the new National Security Multi-Mission Vessels.

Crowley will execute the contract with Stena RoRo, Serco and LCE (Life Cycle Engineering), services in acquisitions, naval ship architecture, engineering and applied technology.

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