Friday, December 5, 1997
Contact: John Swank
Telephone: 202-366-5807
MAR 12-97


The Maritime Administration today honored two Baltimore-based cargo ships, Cape Wrath and Cape Washington, their crews, and the Baltimore maritime community for their support of national defense sealift programs.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration acquired the ships in 1993 for its Ready Reserve Force (RRF) program, which provides emergency sealift support for U.S. military forces.

Bethelehem Steel’s Sparrows Point Shipyard prepared the two ships for operation under U.S. registry as part of the RRF. Both previously operated in commercial service under foreign registry.

At a ceremony onboard the Cape Wrath at its Port Covington berth, Acting Maritime Administrator John E. Graykowski presented the Cape Wrath and the Cape Washington and their crews with Professional Ship Awards.

The awards are presented to "those ships and crews whose performance has clearly exceeded the already high standards we expect and receive from the Ready Reserve Force," Graykowski said.

The large, gray, 697-foot-long cargo ships are equipped with 11 tiers, including six hoistable decks and two angled stern ramps. They are equipped to carry heavy rolling cargo with total height of 6 to 10 meters and gross weights up to 260 metric tons.

The Cape Wrath and Cape Washington both participated in the United States Army’s Interim Afloat Pre-positioning Program. From March 1994 until November 1996, the Wrath operated for 981 days, maintaining an overall readiness rate of 99.8 percent. It then served with distinction in a Jordanian Presidential Determination Exercise.

The Cape Washington received many letters of commendations while operating for 1,184 days and maintaining an overall readiness rate of 99.5 percent.

The Ready Reserve Force is a fleet of 96 ships owned by the Maritime Administration and retained in a reserve status for use by the Department of Defense in wars, contingencies or emergencies. Roll-on/roll-off ships like the Cape Wrath and Cape Washington are ideal for transporting oversized military vehicles and other equipment that will not easily fit in commercial vessels.

MARAD now has eight RRF ships outported in Baltimore, contributing $50 million per year to the region’s economy, Graykowski said. Two other Baltimore-based ships, the Cape Ann and Cape Avinof, recently were tested by the Department of Defense and surpassed all requirements.

The partnership between the maritime industry and the Department of Defense is in keeping with a merchant mariner tradition of service and support to U.S. fighting forces that dates back before the Revolutionary War.

Approximately 90 students from Cherry Hill Elementary School in Baltimore and Concord Elementary School in Prince George’s County attended the ceremony as guests of the Maritime Administration. Their visit, which included a tour the Cape Wrath, was part of the department’s Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Futures Program.

The Garrett A. Morgan program is designed to reach students in kindergarten through 12th grade to educate them about career opportunities in transportation. The goal is to ensure that America has a workforce prepared for the technologically challenging jobs of the 21st century. It is named in honor of Garrett A. Morgan (1876-1963), an African-American entrepreneur who invented, among other things, the three-phased automated traffic signal and the safety hood, later known as the gas mask.