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US Military Sealift Command in Trouble

FJAG

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The US military ran the largest stress test of its sealift fleet in years. It’s in big trouble.
By: David B. Larter

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military in September ordered the largest stress test of its wartime sealift fleet in the command’s history, with 33 out of 61 government-owned ships being activated simultaneously. The results were bad, according to a new report.

In an unclassified U.S. Transportation Command report posted to its website, the so-called turbo activation revealed that less than half of the sealift fleet would be fully prepared to get underway for a major sealift operation in a crisis.

“The relatively low … Qualitative Mission Success Rate indicates the Organic Surge Fleet is challenged to be immediately available for a large-scale inter-theater force deployment without delays/impacts to force closure due to degraded readiness,” the report read.

The Dec. 16 report confirms what senior military and transportation officials have been saying for years now: that the sealift fleet is in urgent need of recapitalization if it is to be relied upon to support a large-scale operation overseas. In a crisis, nearly 90 percent of all Army and Marine Corps equipment would be carried by ship. The Navy is on the hook to pay for recapitalization, but it has so far failed to land on a strategy to do so.

Overall, 40.7 percent of the 61 ships operated by Military Sealift Command and the Maritime Administration were fully ready to support a major sealift operation. Sal Mercogliano, a merchant marine and current professor at Campbell University who closely follows these issues, said the major equipment casualties are the driving factor that is dragging down readiness.

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See rest here:

https://www.defensenews.com/naval/2019/12/31/the-us-military-ran-the-largest-stress-test-of-its-sealift-fleet-in-years-its-in-big-trouble/?fbclid=IwAR1z6THIjQqw1YnLEhKSDVRJRl0A8urnPTpvzQVqzAM2Txse4KT6wE-RwvM

:cheers:
 

SeaKingTacco

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Good for the US military for actually stressing a component of their force to the breaking point. Now they know the weaknesses and can fix them.
 

Colin Parkinson

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yes the story is the test itself was successful as it showed the real weakness prior to actual need, now they need to get equipment to solve the issue. Problem is that they need a lot in a hurry, had they addressed this 20 years ago, they could have 1 new vessel come off the ways every year and replace the oldest vessel and just keep doing that, shipyard is happy for constant work and the fleet is fairly up to date, now they face the same issue as us.
 

Navy_Pete

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Crazy they have that many steam ships still available. That's a hard ticket to find; the plan to get 100% of the qualified mariners in the US to go to sea to get them off the wall seems a bit optimistic.

Really like that they actually tried to do it for a test though; normally we say we have a capability, leave it in the box somewhere, and act surprised when we pull it out and it's unserviceable. That or run it into the ground and act surprised when a 40+ year old ship 'self retires'.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Well they could set up a "foreign legion" of mariners, basically all Filipino with x years of service counting to US citizenship. Base part of the reserve fleet there, the crews get Philippine wage levels and benefits, they maintain the fleet at 85-100% with a some of them rotating through depot ships reactivating and maintain ships in the US. 
 

tomahawk6

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The government is required to pay union wages, but at least feeding the crews would be cheap.
 

quadrapiper

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Colin P said:
Well they could set up a "foreign legion" of mariners, basically all Filipino with x years of service counting to US citizenship. Base part of the reserve fleet there, the crews get Philippine wage levels and benefits, they maintain the fleet at 85-100% with a some of them rotating through depot ships reactivating and maintain ships in the US.
Drawing on the international merchant marine would work for diesel engineers and bridge/deck roles; still doesn't help overmuch with steam enginerooms. While still attainable, my understanding (brother's a civvie marine engineer) is if you've got that ticket you're either approaching retirement or already using it in a specialist application (e.g. LNG tankers).
 

Cloud Cover

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And some enterprising ship refit yard can now start plugging at Congress to fund a fleet wide, super expensive engine and propulsion system upgrade or (more likely) a huge purchase and refit of fairly new diesel ships.
 

tomahawk6

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Time to go with wind power and maybe solar ?  ;D

Seriously the USN is responsible for funding the Sealift Command and so far they haven't modernized the fleet. The stress test was a complete failure. If we had to deploy troops rapidly the USN might be using cruise ships a la Falklands.
 

Colin Parkinson

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quadrapiper said:
Drawing on the international merchant marine would work for diesel engineers and bridge/deck roles; still doesn't help overmuch with steam enginerooms. While still attainable, my understanding (brother's a civvie marine engineer) is if you've got that ticket you're either approaching retirement or already using it in a specialist application (e.g. LNG tankers).

They can pay people to get their tickets and retain till the fleet is upgraded, the only way.
 

quadrapiper

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Colin P said:
They can pay people to get their tickets and retain till the fleet is upgraded, the only way.
Of course. Depends on expected turnaround on a manning fix.
 

Colin Parkinson

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I wonder if these vessels and crews are subject to the Jones Act? They could schedule refits for the vessels that just or almost made the operational grade to get them ready, offer up training and positions to increase the ready number of tickets, hire a bunch of R0/RO ships on a rotational basis to supplement the current operational fleet. Part of the problem I suspect is that unsexy stuff like this is a easy target during budget cuts and by not rotating the fleet and doing work ups, the fleet rots and the experience withers.
 

Spencer100

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Jones Act yup

https://transportationinstitute.org/5things/
https://agovernmentofthepeople.com/1920/06/01/merchant-marine-act-of-1920-the-jones-act/
 
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