The US Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) has awarded US Marine Management a $27.3m contact for the operation and maintenance of three government-owned, medium-speed roll-on/roll-off (LMSR) vessels.  

According to a 3 April announcement by the US Department of Defense (DoD), the vessels included in this award are the include Bob Hope-class cargo ships USNS Seay (T-AKR 302), USNS Pililaau (T-AKR 304), and USNS Brittin (T-AKR 305), with the contacted work running until 30 September 2024. Including an optional six-month option, the maximum contact value amounts to $40.9m, under a single responsible source procurement.  

The US Navy’s MSC is responsible for supporting US naval and maritime operations across the world, delivering logistics support, strategic sealift, and specialised missions as required.  

The LMSR class of vessels are situated under the Sealift Program (PM5) and used for the rapid offloading of US Army wheeled and tracked vehicles, as well as other large land domain platforms. Internally, the LMSRs contains capabilities that enables offloading of equipment without relying on local port infrastructure.  

More than 90% of the US military’s equipment and supplies travel by sea, with vessels able to move large quantities of items at a significantly lower cost than would be possible by air. According to the MSC, DoD policy state that it must first look to the US-flagged shipping market to meet customer sealift requirements, with government-owned vessels only used when such capacity is unavailable. 

Bob Hope-class cargo ships 

The Bob Hope-class is a series of seven vehicle cargo vessels used for the pre-positioning of US military equipment. Displacing more than 62,000 tonnes at full load, the class was built between 1993-2001 and accommodates up to 45 civilian crew, and up to 50 active US military personnel.  

In August 2022 the Bob Hope-class LMSR USNS Mendonca (T-AKR 303) embarked a US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter for transport back to the US after the aircraft had blown overboard during heavy weather in the Mediterranean Sea while on operations with the USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75).  

The aircraft was recovered from a depth of approximately 9,500 feet by a team from Combined Task Force (CTF) 68, Naval Sea Systems Command’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV), USS Harry S Truman, Naval Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic, and US 6th Fleet embarked on the multi-purpose construction vessel Everest and transported to Italy. 

According to an MSC release the USNS Mendonca is crewed by approximately 30 civilian contract mariners who are employed by US Marine Management.