LMSR Contracts go to AMSEA, Patriot

February 2010

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SIU jobs were retained as American Overseas Marine (AMSEA) and American Ship Management/Patriot Contract Services, respectively, last month were awarded operating contracts for a total of 11 large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships (LMSRs). The U.S. Defense Department selected AMSEA to operate the seven Bob Hope-class LMSRs and also selected Patriot as the operator of four converted LMSRs.

The SIU represents all unlicensed mariners aboard the Bob Hope ships: the USNS Bob Hope, USNS Fisher, USNS Seay, USNS Mendonca, USNS Pililaau, USNS Brittin and USNS Benavidez. The union represents steward-department mariners on the other four ships covered by last month’s awards: the USNS Gordon, USNS Gilliland, USNS Shughart and USNS Yano.

The operating agreement for the Bob Hope ships has options which, if fully exercised, would extend the contract to the year 2017. The operating agreement for the other four vessels also includes options potentially lasting to 2017, and consisting of a series of one-year options. Turnover on the converted vessels was expected to begin in late January. AMSEA already operated the Bob Hope ships.

SIU officials pointed out that while these 11 vessels already were part of the union’s fleet, as with any contract bid, there were no guarantees that the new awards would go to Seafarers-contracted companies.

Meanwhile, Capt. Thomas Merrell, president of AMSEA, stated that his company “has successfully operated the vessels in this program for the last five years and looks forward to continuing our superior service for our customer under this new contract.”

The company further noted that the U.S. Military Sealift Command’s LMSR program “significantly enhances the U.S. sealift capability for the new millennium.

LMSRs have been the primary movers of U.S. military equipment during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Each LMSR can carry an entire U.S. Army Task Force, including 58 tanks and 48 other tracked vehicles, as well as more than 900 trucks and other wheeled vehicles.”

The Bob Hope ships were built at Avondale in New Orleans and were delivered from 1998 to 2003. The Shughart and Yano were converted at NASSCO in San Diego, while the Gordon and Gilliland were converted at Newport News (Va.) Shipbuilding. The converted vessels were containerships. They were delivered to MSC by late 1997.

MSC lists two main missions – prepositioning and surge sealift – for its LMSRs, including eight Seafarers-crewed Watson-class vessels. The ships vary in length from about 900 feet to approximately 950 feet.

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