Logistics: A Tender For Ships That Wait


December 10, 2009: The U.S. Navy has converted one of its submarine tenders, the USS Emory S. Land, to a Military Sealift Command ship, and is sending it to Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean, this Summer. The 29,000 ton ship, and its crew of more than 1,200, was originally designed to be a floating repair and resupply ship for submarines. Unlike diesel-electric subs, nuclear boats don't need these tenders as much, and there have been fewer and fewer of them in American service. Often, the submarine tenders are used to support surface ships and cargo vessels supplying American military operations. This is apparently what the revamped USS Land will do, using a civilian/navy crew. Diego Garcia is a major supply base for the United States. Several dozen ships moored there are used to store weapons, equipment and ammunition. All these ships require maintenance, especially for the air conditioning equipment on the ammunition ships..

While the army and marines prefer to keep their pre-positioned equipment and munitions ships stationary off places like Diego Garcia, the U.S. Air Force has a different approach. Like the army and marines, the air force uses ships to preposition heavy equipment in regions where the gear may be needed in a military emergency. One of these ships is a 670 foot long, 41,000 ton (displacement) container ship carrying smart bombs and missiles. The MV Tech. Sgt. John A. Chapman can carry 1,063 20 foot shipping containers containing the weapons. Each of these 20x8x8 foot containers can carry up to 18 tons of cargo (but most carry much less.) The MV Chapman is a ro/ro (roll on/roll off) ship that has a 120 foot long ramp that enables trucks to haul off the containers. Many of the containers are stored in air conditioned spaces, to reduce the heat stress on the munitions. The Chapman has a crew of 19 and moves around the Pacific, so it can race to hot spots like Taiwan, South Korea or the Persian Gulf, as needed. The ship normally carries several thousand smart bombs and missiles, of various types and sizes. The air force pays over a million dollars a month to lease and operate the ship.



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