The US Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced that it has awarded contracts to Crowley Liner Services of Jacksonville, FL, and Marine Transport Lines of Secaucus, NJ, to manage 11 and six Ready Reserve Force (RRF) ships respectively. Both companies are independent subsidiaries of Crowley Maritime Corporation.
In total, MARAD has an all-cargo fleet of 54 RRF ships maintained by nine American owned and operated ship management firms.
“We have seen first hand that the Ready Reserve Force provides a vital link to the men and women of the armed services by carrying thousands of military vehicles, aircraft and other materiel to support operations in Afghanistan and Iraq,” US Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said. “This is an extremely cost-effective and well-run program that keeps us prepared to rapidly respond to the military’s needs.”
“We’ve been honored to manage ships for MARAD for the past several years,” said Tom Crowley, Jr., chairman, president and CEO. “I think these newly awarded contracts reflect the fact that our people have done an excellentjob crewing, maintaining and operating these ships safely for the administration. Our labor unions, which include the Seafarers International Union, American Maritime Officers and the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association are also to be commended for their good work and efforts to make this a successful operation. We look forward to providing many more years of exemplary service.”
The RRF ships are kept in a high state of readiness at 15 ports located on the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts of the United States. Some ships also are kept in a pre-positioned status overseas. Crowley managed vessels have home ports in Baltimore, Houston, Tacoma, Long Beach, San Diego and South Carolina.
Most of the new ship management contracts are built on a four-year base period and include two three-year extension options that will be based on the company’s performance. Crowley and other management firms are responsible for keeping the ships in a constant state of readiness and getting the ships fully crewed with US-citizen merchant mariners when an activation call goes out.
“The Ready Reserve Force has moved an extraordinary amount of cargo over the past several years and our nation’s maritime industry has kept this fleet in good working order and worked diligently to show its value,” Acting Maritime Administrator John Jamian said.
The Ready Reserve Force was established in 1976 and was significantly strengthened after the Gulf War in 1991 in order to ensure the military’s continued access to cargo capacity. Many of the ships have unique capabilities and have been used for humanitarian missions such as carrying aid to Haiti and participating in the December 2004 tsunami relief efforts.