The United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) is deploying five ships to assist with relief efforts in Haiti.

The MARAD-owned auxiliary vessels Gopher State, Petersburg, Huakai, Cornhusker State and Cape May are ready to sail to support relief efforts in the country.

US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said the ships will help those on the front line save lives.

“These ships will add crucial capabilities by supporting operations to move large volumes of people and cargo,” LaHood said.

Acting maritime administrator David T Matsuda said the ships and skilled crews are ideally suited to assist in Haiti by providing unique capabilities.

“One cargo ship can carry as many as 400 fully loaded cargo planes,” Matsuda said.

Huakai is a new high-speed ferry obtained by the Maritime Administration that can cruise at a maximum speed of 40k.

Gopher State and Cornhusker State are tactical auxiliary crane ships designed to load and unload containers and other cargo in ports.

Petersburg is an offshore petroleum discharge system tanker based in Alameda, California overhauled to deliver petroleum products to military forces in areas where port facilities are damaged.

The Virginia-based Cape May is a sea barge clipper class vessel capable of lifting outsized objects, such as 90ft causeway sections or 110ft coastguard patrol boats.