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Press Release

MSC PAO 97-35
June 13, 1997
For more information, contact:
Marge Holtz or Steve Rosa
(202) 685-5055

Augmenting the fleet:
Cargo delivery system proves its worth

Military Sealift Command ships deliver the goods wherever and whenever the Department of Defense asks. Military missions can only last as long as their lines of supply. When the Navy's fleet or other military agencies need them, the Military Sealift Command Combat Logistics Force ships provide underway replenishment, towing and salvage.

But, when requirements exceed the capabilities of the regular Combat Logistics Force ships, the Navy has a back up system in place. And that system--the modular cargo delivery system--just proved itself as a very successful and efficient cargo delivery machine.

In late May and early June, Ready Reserve Force ship SS Cape Johnson sailed to assist with combat supply transfers during the George Washington Battle Group Composite Training Unit Exercise 98-1, or COMPTUEX. COMPTUEX tested different capabilities of a Navy battle group at sea--including everything from vertical replenishments to interdiction operations--making sure each part of the battle group works in tandem and effectively.

Cape Johnson was included in the exercise in order to prove its untested modular cargo delivery system. The MCDS is a mechanized cargo transfer unit which acts as a combination elevator and winch, hoisting pallets of cargo into the air and then across wire lines strung between two ships sailing simultaneously side-by-side. Cape Johnson handily resupplied 11 Navy ships while operating during COMPTUEX 98-1, moving 65 pallets of equipment across the waves.

Two MCDS units have been installed on RRF ships Cape Johnson, SS Cape Alexander, SS Cape Gibson, SS Cape Girardeau, SS Cape John, SS Cape Juby and SS Cape Jacob. Ships with MCDS installed can conduct underway replenishment services with other U.S. Navy ships, assisting and augmenting the Navy Combat Logistics Force in times of war.

"By having MCDS units installed on government-owned cargo ships, we're able to add to the Navy's Combat Logistics Force," said Peter Bullenkamp, MSC's Sealift Program manager. "Ready Reserve Force ships are designed for specialized missions, and with the MCDS units aboard, we can make a greater contribution to military operations."

MCDS was developed in the mid-1980s under the Chief of Naval Operations-mandated Sealift Enhancement Features program. Increasing the militarily usefulness of sealift cargo ships--namely the Ready Reserve Force--could help keep Navy combat ships fully supplied in times of war. An ambitious program got underway, and by 1991 the 14 MCDS units had been installed on the RRF ships.

"Our success with the Cape Johnson proves the MCDS will be a real boost to fleet commanders who might need some extra help keeping their lines of supply running smoothly during a crisis," added Bullenkamp.