NORFOLK (Sept. 21, 2019) Military Sealift Command large, medium-speed roll-on/roll-off (LMSR) vessel USNS Benavidez (T-AKR 306), departs LambertÕs Point Shipyard alongside USNS Mendonca (T-AKR 303) for Turbo Activation 2019. U.S. Navy photo/Released

New USTRANSCOM Commander is ‘Laser-Focused’ on Buying Secondhand Ships to Boost Military’s Surge Sealift

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 2563
October 21, 2021

In her first major speech since taking over as commander of the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) this month, Air Force Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost committed the command to being “laser-focused” on a “buy used” strategy for boosting capacity of the Ready Reserve Force (RRF) fleet.

The RRF vessels are a subset of the Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) that provide surge sealift capability and rapid deployment of U.S. military forces worldwide. The program consists of 41 vessels, including 35 roll-on/roll off ships that are owned, crewed, and maintained by MARAD, but come under control of Military Sealift Command once activated.

You may recall back in July Crowley was awarded a $638 million contract from MARAD to be the Vessel Acquisitions Manager for the acquisition and management of additional RRF vessels, part of a plan to reduce the overall age of the fleet and increase its reliability.

During her keynote address at National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA)-USTRANSCOM annual Fall Meeting, Gen. Van Ovost said capacity across air and sea was key to maintaining strategic dominance across the globe. She committed to being “laser-focused on emphasizing a responsible ‘buy used’ strategy with the U.S. Navy” in order to address the looming retirement of 34 vessels within the RRF fleet.

This comes after a turbo activation ordered by USTRANSCOM in September 2019 that stress tested the RRF fleet’s ability to go from reduced operating status to fully crewed and full operating status within 5-days. Of the vessels participating, only about 60 percent were considered “ready” and 40 percent were able to get underway in the allotted time. 

“Resilient and Reliable…Agile and Adaptable must be more than a bumper sticker,” Van Ovost said. “The future all-domain contested environment requires our logistics enterprise to be resilient and reliable. Our warfighting framework must be agile and adaptable to deter potential adversaries, and if necessary, win decisively.

“There is no second place when it comes to our national defense.”

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