Maersk Wins U.S. Navy Prepositioning Contract

July 2010

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Following a bidding process that lasted longer than a year, the U.S. Military Sealift Command in late May announced that SIU-contracted Maersk Line, Limited has been awarded a contract for the operation and maintenance of 10 ships in MSC’s prepositioning fleet. Seafarers-contracted Patriot Contract Services won the bid for the 11th ship in the fleet, the USNS 1ST LT Harry L. Martin.

At press time, it was learned that turnover on the 11 vessels will be delayed, in part because of the time required to address a protest filed after the contract awards. However, if the original awards remain intact as expected, Seafarers will receive wage increases aboard all 11 vessels: the USNS GYSGT Fred W. Stockham, USNS LCPL Roy M. Wheat, USNS 2ND LT John P. Bobo, USNS 1ST LT Jack Lummus, USNS PFC Dewayne T. Williams, USNS SGT William R. Button, USNS 1ST LT Baldomero Lopez, USNS SGT Matej Kocak, USNS MAJ Stephen W. Pless, USNS PFC Eugene A. Obregon and USNS Martin. Each contract includes a series of one-year options which if exercised will extend the agreements through September 2015.

The 10 ships included in the Maersk awards actually are covered in four separate agreements while the 11th vessel is covered in what is known as a small business set-aside. The SIU represents all unlicensed mariners aboard Maersk Line, Limited (MLL) vessels and represents the steward department mariners aboard Patriot ships.

In announcing the awards during the June membership meetings, SIU Vice President Contracts George Tricker pointed out that there were no guarantees the bids would be won by Seafarers-contracted companies. The union is grateful to keep these vessels under SIU contracts, he said.

MLL issued a statement in which the company noted it will “provide personnel and mariners, operational and technical support ashore and afloat, as well as all the equipment, tools, provisions and supplies necessary to operate these vessels worldwide. MLL also will support MSC in the management of government-owned cargo, including, but not limited to, hazardous materials, vehicular, bulk, and general cargoes.”

“MLL’s support of Maritime Prepositioning Ships goes back to 1983 when we converted five commercial vessels and operated them for 25 years. We’re pleased that MSC has recognized the value of our service and has entrusted us with these ships,” said Scott Cimring, MLL’s senior director of Government Ship Management. “Our approach to ship management leverages our global network, proven management practices, and a mindset of continuous improvement. Cost-effective readiness is a MLL hallmark, and we’re ready and excited by the opportunity to continue serving the nation.”

According to MSC, all 11 ships are deployed to strategic locations worldwide carrying U.S. Marine Corps cargo including tanks, ammunition, food, and medical supplies ready for rapid delivery ashore when needed.

The agency describes its overall prepositioning program – which consists of 32 ships supporting the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Defense Logistics Agency – as “an essential element in the U.S. military’s readiness strategy. Afloat prepositioning strategically places military equipment and supplies board ships located in key ocean areas to ensure rapid availability during a major theater war, a humanitarian operation or other contingency…. Prepositioning ships provide quick and efficient movement of military gear between operating areas without reliance on other nations’ transportation networks. These ships give U.S. war fighters, who are flown into a theater of operations, the assurance that they will have what they need to quickly respond in a crisis – anywhere, anytime.”

The prepositioning fleet features both U.S. government-owned vessels, privately owned ships chartered by the military, and vessels activated from the U.S. Maritime Administration’s Ready Reserve Force (RRF). All are crewed by U.S. civilian mariners.

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