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Press Release

MSC PAO 98-27
June 30, 1998
For more information, contact:
Marge Holtz or Lisa Gates
(202) 685-5055

MSC takes delivery of USNS Watson

Military Sealift Command took delivery of USNS Watson, the first of 14 new construction large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships, called LMSRs, in late June. She is the first ship of the Watson class to be delivered.

Watson, named in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Army Pvt. George Watson, is the first of seven LMSRs to be built by National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego, Calif. USNS Watson was christened by Gail Berry West, wife of Secretary of the Army Togo D. West, last July.

Seven more new LMSRs -- the Bob Hope class -- are being built at Avondale Shipyards in Louisiana. Five converted LMSRs have already been delivered and are operating worldwide.

USNS Watson will be assigned to MSC's Afloat Prepositioning Program which prepositions on ships equipment and supplies for the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and the Defense Logistics Agency worldwide. Prepositioning improves U.S. capabilities to deploy forces rapidly in any area of conflict. Watson is scheduled to be loaded with U.S. Army cargo in September.

USNS Watson will be crewed by 29 merchant mariners from Maersk Lines Limited under contract to MSC. In addition, up to 50 military personnel can embark to monitor and maintain the military equipment on board, ensuring its readiness.

By the year 2001, MSC will have taken delivery of 19 LMSRs as part of the U.S. Navy Strategic Sealift Acquisition Program. The program is in response to the need for expanded sealift capability identified in a congressionally mandated study done in the early 1990s. The 19 LMSRs will provide five million square feet of sealift capacity early in the next century.