Seafarers will continue sailing aboard two expeditionary transfer dock (ESD) vessels, following a recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).
The DOD on Jan. 25 reported that SIU-contracted Ocean Shipholdings, Inc. has been selected to continue operating the USNS Montford Point and the USNS John Glenn for up to five-and-a-half years. Ocean Shipholdings already operates both of those ships for the U.S. Military Sealift Command (MSC). The newly awarded contract features a base period of one year, four 12-month option periods and a six-month option. If all options are exercised, the agreement will last until November 2024.
“This announcement is a credit to SIU crews and to Ocean Shipholdings,” stated SIU Vice President Contracts George Tricker. “The ships themselves as well as the mariners who crew them are vital to America’s sealift capabilities. With this agreement, our members can look forward to solid opportunities for ongoing job security.”
The ESD ships (built by union shipyard workers) originally were called mobile landing platforms. According to the Navy, an ESD “is a highly flexible ship that provides logistics movement from sea to shore supporting a broad range of military operations. ESD-class ships leverage an existing commercial design of the Alaska-class crude oil carrier built by General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO), to ensure design stability and low developmental costs. These ships operate within Maritime Prepositioning Ship squadrons as mobile sea bases or as the component commander requires providing the U.S. Navy fleet with a critical access infrastructure that supports the flexible deployment of forces and supplies.”
The vessels are 785 feet long and have 164-foot beams. They can sail at 15 knots and feature “commercial diesel electric propulsion,” according to MSC. The agency also notes that both ships “utilize float-on/float-off technology and a reconfigurable mission deck to maximize capability. Additionally, the ships’ size allows for 25,000 square feet of vehicle and equipment stowage space and 380,000 gallons of JP-5 fuel storage.”