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Press Release

MSC PAO 97-52
September 4, 1997
For more information, contact:
Marge Holtz or Nancy Breen
(202) 685-5055

MSC awards first contract under
National Defense Features program

How can the United States maintain its shipbuilding and seagoing labor base, have ships to quickly transport critical supplies and equipment in the event of a contingency, and, at the same time, avoid spending the big bucks that would be needed if the Navy built its own ships or kept commercial ships on expensive long-term charter? The answer is the National Defense Features program--a federal ship program that pays for the installation of militarily-useful features on commercial ships whose owners agree to make the ships available to the Department of Defense during a military contingency.

Using this concept, the Navy's Military Sealift Command made history when it awarded its first contract under the National Defense Features program. The $4.9 million fixed-price contract went to Hvide Van Ommeren Tankers of Stamford, Conn., for the installation and 25 years of maintenance of four refueling-at-sea stations on each of three commercial tankers presently under construction.

The National Defense Features program is designed to ensure that the Department of Defense can obtain militarily-useful commercial cargo ships in times of national emergencies. The NDF program funds installation of militarily-useful features on U.S.-built vessels during construction or conversion. NDF funding also pays for any increased costs during commercial operation that are directly attributable to the NDF. The NDF program is a cost-effective means to provide later-deploying surge sealift or to meet resupply requirements in the 21st century by providing active, crewed ships with proven mechanical reliability and desirable performance capabilities.

The National Defense Features program is part of the 1996 National Defense Authorization Act that provided $50 million to install defense features on some commercial ships. Reinforced decks, cranes, roll-on/roll-off ramps and refueling-at-sea stations are a few of the defense features envisioned under the program.