Seafarers-contracted Crowley in mid-August was awarded a new Defense Department contract for operation of six prepositioning vessels: the USNS John Bobo, USNS William Button, USNS Baldomero Lopez, USNS Jack Lummus, USNS Fred Stockham and USNS Dewayne Williams. Crowley already had been operating those vessels, based on a previous award. The new agreement is expected to last through September 2027.
According to the U.S. Military Sealift Command (MSC), the Stockham is 907 feet long, has a 105-foot beam and can sail at 24 knots, while the remaining ships are each 673 feet long, with 105-foot beams and sailing speeds of up to 17.7 knots.
MSC describes its prepositioning program as “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 seventeen prepositioning ships support the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Defense Logistics Agency.”
The agency further notes, “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. regional combatant commanders the assurance that they will have what they need to quickly respond in a crisis – anywhere, anytime. During a contingency, troops are flown into a theater of operations to rapidly employ the cargo from these ships. Many of MSC’s prepositioning ships are able to discharge liquid, containerized or motorized cargo both pier side or while anchored offshore by using floating hoses and shallow-draft watercraft, called lighterage, that are carried aboard. This allows cargo to be ferried to shore in areas where ports are non-existent or in poor condition and gives the nation’s military forces the ability to operate in both developed and undeveloped areas of the world.”