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Press Release

Navy Ship named for Marine Corps hero

MSC PAO 00-06
June 2, 2000
For more information, contact:
Marge Holtz or Cristina McGlew
(202) 685-5055

As a crowd of more than 400 gazed upon a freshly painted ship, a small form appeared. Barely visible above the ship's railing, amidst balloons and bunting, Eleanor Martin Abbott lifted a bottle of champagne and sent it crashing against a rail spewing foam and bubbles everywhere. This act officially named the Military Sealift Command ship USNS 1st Lt. Harry L. Martin in honor of her brother, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient.

He was my best friend, my big brother," said Mrs. Abbott to the guests who attended the ceremony. "And I want to meet all the men out there that knew him. I want to meet you all before we leave."

MSC honored Marine Corps 1st Lt. Harry L. Martin by naming a ship for him during a ceremony held on Blount Island Command, Jacksonville, Fla., June 1. Eleanor Martin Abbott, the ship's sponsor, was joined by a second sponsor, Marjorie S. Abbot, wife of Adm. Charles S. Abbot, USN, Deputy Commander in Chief, U.S. European Command, in officially naming the ship.

"I am honored, indeed, to be here this morning as we officially name this great ship after a true American hero," said Retired Navy Adm. Stan Arthur, former Vice Chief of Naval Operations. "Most people think about heroes as larger-than-life figures. But, mostly, heroes are quiet, normal people, just doing their jobs, completing their missions and being themselves… Mostly heroes are quiet normal people, people like Harry Martin."

Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal presented the Medal of Honor to the parents of this Bucyrus, Ohio native, May 6, 1946, for gallantly giving his life in the service of his country March 26, 1945, the last day of the official Iwo Jima campaign on the Volcano Islands.

Members of the official party - VADM Gordon S. Holder, USN, Commander, Military Sealift Command; matron of honor Hazel Martin; sponsor Eleanor Martin Abbott; sponsor Marjorie Sellars Abbot; matron of honor Barbara Fleming; and principal speaker ADM Stan Arthur, USN (ret.) - enjoy a moment of calm, moments before the bottles broke officially renaming the ship in honor of 1stLt Harry L. Martin, USMCR. Martin was the platoon leader attached to Company C, Fifth Pioneer Battalion, Fifth Marine Division when the enemy penetrated his sector. He instantly organized a firing line with the Marine nearest his foxhole and momentarily checked the headlong rush.

With several of his men trapped behind the enemy's new positions, Martin defied intense hostile fire to work his way to the surrounded Marines and direct them to their own lines. He permanently disrupted a coordinated Japanese attack and prevented a greater loss of life in his own and adjacent platoons by charging into the midst of the strong enemy force, fighting valiantly until he fell, mortally wounded by a grenade.

"This ship will live up to the heroic example set by Lt. Martin, going in harm's way if necessary, to deliver the supplies and equipment needed by the United States Marine Corps to carry out its worldwide mission," said Vice Adm. Gordon S. Holder, USN, Commander, Military Sealift Command.

"Every steel plate in this ship will carry with it the dedication and integrity of the men and women who built her, the mariners who will sail her, and the American hero for whom she is named," said Adm. Arthur.

USNS 1st Lt. Harry L. Martin is 754-feet long, has a beam of 105 feet, displaces about 46,010 tons fully-loaded and can sail at speeds of more than 17 knots. Martin has a civilian crew of 24 and is operated for MSC by Osprey Ship Management, Inc., Bethesda, Md.

Martin is the first of three Maritime Prepositoning Force (Enhanced) ships that will augment the capability of the Maritime Prepositioning Force of 13 ships. MPF was established in the early 1980s to reduce response time for the delivery of urgently needed U.S. military equipment and supplies during a war or contingency.

"Ships like Martin are the nation's guarantee that our forward-deployed forces will have the vital supplies and equipment they need to respond to any mission, anywhere, anytime," said Vice Adm. Holder.

MPF ships are loaded with U.S. Marine Corps and Navy equipment, and operate within a short sailing time of potential contingency sites in three forward deployed Maritime Prepositioning Squadrons. MSC's prepositioning ships are located primarily in the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, and Guam/Saipan. One ship will be added to each MPS to carry a Navy fleet hospital, an expeditionary airfield and a naval construction battalion.

The MPF program is part of Military Sealift Command's Afloat Prepositioning Force, which has expanded to more than 36 ships forward deployed worldwide carrying U.S. Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, Navy and Defense Logistics Agency equipment, supplies and fuel.