Source: Maritime Executive
January 22nd 2016
On Friday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the award of contracts worth $1.96 billion over eight years to seven U.S. companies firms to manage, maintain and operate 48 National Defense Reserve Fleet vessels through to January 2024.
The 18 contracts, awarded to seven U.S. companies, total $953.5 million for the four-year base contract which runs through January 2020. The contracts also include two, two-year options bringing the total award value to $1.96 billion.
The companies will be responsible for maintaining the ships in good mechanical condition and ensuring that crews are available to operate them when needed.
Forty-six of the vessels are part of the Department of Transportation’s Ready Reserve Force, a fleet managed by the Maritime Administration (MARAD) that provides rapid mass movement of Department of Defense equipment and supplies to support our Armed Forces, and also responds to national and humanitarian emergencies.
Additionally, two vessels are used to support Missile Defense Agency operations. Each certified, mission-ready vessel is maintained so that it can be fully activated and deployed quickly. The 46 Ready Reserve Force vessels have been activated hundreds of times since 2002.
The contracts are funded by the Department of Defense (DoD) National Defense Sealift Fund to support DoD’s strategic sealift mission.
“Since 1946, National Defense Reserve Fleet vessels have facilitated U.S. strategic sealift, natural disaster response, and humanitarian operations all around the world,” said Foxx. “From supporting our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and providing humanitarian support for Haiti, to supporting the United Nation’s at-sea neutralization of Syria’s chemical weapons – this fleet reliably, economically, and efficiently advances U.S. contributions to global peace and prosperity.”
Section 11 of the Merchant Ship Sales Act of 1946 established the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) to serve as a reserve of ships for national defense and national emergencies. At its height in 1950, the NDRF consisted of 2,277 ships at the following eight anchorages: Stony Point, New York; Fort Eustis, Virginia; Wilmington, North Carolina; Mobile, Alabama; Beaumont, Texas; Benicia, California; Astoria, Oregon; and Olympia, Washington.
Today’s fleet is much smaller, consisting of just three of its original eight anchorages located at: Fort Eustis, Virginia; Beaumont, Texas; Suisun Bay in Benicia, California, and at designated port facility berths. The program consists primarily of dry cargo ships with some tankers and military auxiliaries. As of December 31, 2015, there were 101 vessels in the NDRF.