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Press Release

MSC PAO 98-06
March 04, 1998
For more information, contact:
Marge Holtz or Steve Rosa
(202) 685-5055

Sisler christened in San Diego ceremony

USNS Sisler (T-AKR 311), the fourth of 14 new large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships destined for the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command operation, was christened Feb. 28 at the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego, Calif. The ship is named for U.S. Army First Lieutenant George "Ken" Sisler, a Dexter, Mo., native who was presented the Medal of Honor posthumously for action in Vietnam in 1967. Sisler carried a wounded comrade while fighting off enemy troops.

While trying to move his fellow soldier out of the line of fire, Sisler was able to substantially drive back the enemy. As he was field directing air strikes, Sisler was mortally wounded.

"Lt. Sisler was a man of courage. I pledge to you and the entire Sisler family that MSC will make you proud that your hero's name is given to this ship," said Vice Adm. Jim Perkins, USN, Commander, Military Sealift Command.

"The 30 or so American merchant mariners who will crew the USNS Sisler will steam this aircraft-carrier-sized ship hard on every assigned mission. They will take her into harm's way if need be as our merchant mariners have done since the Revolutionary War."

Sisler is 950 feet long; has a maximum beam of 105.75 feet; a draft of 34 feet; a displacement (full load) of 62,700 long tons; and a speed of 24 knots. Sisler's cargo area equals more than eight football fields and can be loaded and unloaded in 96 hours. The ship can carry an entire U.S. Army Armored Task Force, including 58 tanks, 48 other tracked vehicles and more than 900 trucks and other wheeled vehicles.

Sisler 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 on board to ensure its readiness.

Sisler is one of 14 large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships, called LMSRs, which are being built at U.S. shipyards in response to the need for expanded sealift capability identified in a congressionally-mandated study done in the early 1990s. Five other LMSRs have been converted from commercial container ships, for a total of 19 LMSRs to be operated by MSC by 2001.

"This ship will make a difference. This ship is a great example of Army/Navy cooperation, and it will be a force to be reckoned with in peace and war. A proud legacy for the heroism of Lt. Ken Sisler. A great ship named for a great American," Vice Adm. Perkins concluded.