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Press Release

MSC PAO 97-4
January 22, 1997
For more information, contact:
Marge Holtz or Nancy Breen
(202) 685-5055

Military Sealift Command's newest ship is named

The weather deck of a gleaming new ship and a flawless California sky provided the perfect setting for the naming of Military Sealift Command's newest ship--USNS Yano--at the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego on Jan. 18. Named for Sergeant First Class Rodney J.T. Yano of Kailua Kona, Hawaii, a Medal of Honor recipient who was killed in Vietnam, USNS Yano (T-AKR 297) initially will be used to preposition U.S. Army combat support equipment at sea. Later the ship will serve as a surge asset for the transport of military cargo from U.S. ports to foreign shores.

Yano's family was present for this moving tribute to their son and brother. Mrs. Lillian Yano, the namesake's mother, served as the matron of honor, participating in the actual naming ceremony along with ship sponsor Mrs. Barry Zlatoper, wife of the former commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, who broke the bottle of champagne of over the ship's bow.

Gen. David A. Bramlett, USA, Commanding General, U.S. Forces Command, the principal speaker at the ceremony, enumerated the cargo that would be loaded aboard USNS Yano: a combined arms mechanized battalion task force consisting of 35 Bradley armored fighting vehicles, 29 Abrams main battle tanks, 8 Field Artillery Howitzers and 9 Multiple Launch Rocket System vehicles, along with other superior combat engineering capability and support elements to fuel, arm, move and repair the force. "SFC Yano would understand these facts and figures, and the value of this ship when loaded with such cargo," said Gen. Bramlett.

"Today marks the official conversion of a former U.S. merchant ship to an important asset in the Prepositioning fleet, which is vital to our national security and to the maintenance of peace throughout the globe. She'll be forward...coming from the sea; ready to answer the call to duty just like her namesake Sergeant Yano did in Vietnam, just like all the members of the 'Blackhorse' 11th Cavalry Regiment," added Vice Adm. Phil Quast, USN, Commander, Military Sealift Command, who also spoke at the ceremony.

USNS Yano is one of 19 large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships, called LMSRs, which will be built or converted at U.S. shipyards by the year 2001 in response to the need for expanded sealift capability identified in a congressionally-mandated study done in the early 1990s.

Formerly a commercial container ship, USNS Yano has undergone nearly three years of conversion to make it ideal for the loading, transport and unloading of U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps combat equipment and combat support equipment. USNS Shughart (T-AKR 295) and USNS Gordon (T-AKR 296), the first two conversion LMSRs, were delivered to MSC last year and presently are undergoing shakedown off the U.S. East Coast in preparation for joining the MSC fleet.

USNS Yano honors Sergeant First Class Rodney J.T. Yano of Kailua Kona, Hawaii, a Medal of Honor recipient who was killed in Vietnam in 1969 while serving as a helicopter crew chief with the Air Cavalry Troop, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. In an exposed position aboard a command and control helicopter during action against enemy forces in a dense jungle, Yano fired upon the enemy in the face of intense small arms and antiaircraft fire. Even after a prematurely exploding grenade covered him with burning phosphorus and left him severely wounded and partially blinded, Yano hurled blazing ammunition from the helicopter at the enemy until the danger was past. This selfless action prevented further injury and loss of life to the rest of the crew members.

USNS Yano has an overall length of 906.9 feet; a maximum beam of 105.6 feet; a draft (full load) of 34.9 feet; a displacement (full load) of 55,000 long tons and a speed of 24 knots. Yano's cargo space equals nearly six football fields and can be loaded and off-loaded in 96 hours.

USNS Yano will be crewed by merchant mariners under contract to Military Sealift Command. In addition, up to 50 military personnel, called supercargoes, will embark to monitor and maintain the military equipment aboard to ensure its military readiness.