SIU Retains Jobs on USNS Stockham, USNS Wheat

Seafarers Log, May 2011

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SIU jobs are secure aboard the prepositioning vessels USNS LCPL Roy M. Wheat and USNS GYSGT Fred W. Stockham following an April 1 announcement by the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) that Maersk Line, Limited won contracts to operate and maintain those vessels.


If all options are exercised, the contract periods for the USNS Wheat and the USNS Stockham will extend into 2015.


According to communications from MSC, the Wheat is expected to transfer to Maersk around early October, while the Stockham is slated to change hands in early July. Both ships already carry SIU crews.


“Maersk Line, Limited’s (MLL) 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. “We’re ready and excited by the opportunity to continue serving the nation.”


Maersk won contracts for these ships and others in May 2010, but a protest was filed shortly thereafter. MSC rebid a total of 10 prepositioning vessels; at press time, the agency hadn’t announced the awards for the remaining eight ships (the USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo, USNS Sgt. William R. Button, USNS 1st Lt. Jack Lummus, USNS PFC Dewayne T. Williams, USNS 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez, USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak, PFC Eugene A. Obregon and USNS Maj. Stephen W. Pless).


According to MSC, the prepositioning program “is an essential element in the U.S. military’s readiness strategy. Afloat prepositioning strategically places military equipment and supplies aboard ships located in key ocean areas to ensure rapid availability during a major theater war, a humanitarian operation or other contingency. MSC’s 31 prepositioning ships support the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Defense Logistics Agency.”


Exclusively civilian-crewed, prepositioning vessels “provide quick and efficient movement of military gear between operating areas without reliance on other nations’ transportation networks,” MSC pointed out. “These ships give U.S. regional combatant commanders the assurance that they will have what they need to quickly respond in a crisis – anywhere, anytime.”

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