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Navy, Army Join With Floating Warehouses

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 3, 1997 – "Moving soldiers is easy," said Army Brig. Gen. Wade H. McManus Jr. "It's their equipment that's hard to move."

To solve this problem, the Army War Reserve Support Command, which McManus commands, loaded the U.S. Naval Ship Gordon Feb. 11 with more than 13,000 items, including 1,000 vehicles. The USNS Gordon is a Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-on/Roll-off ship of the Military Sealift Command. On these ships, the Army simply drives vehicles and supplies aboard, then drive them off to unload. It will be a floating warehouse in the Indian Ocean. It can stay on station for 30 months.

The 1,000-foot-long ship is the first of this class in the Army's Pre-Position Afloat Program. A sister ship, the USNS Shughart, will load and depart in June. The Army War Reserve Support Command will oversee operations of the vessels. The command is part of the Army Materiel Command.

Most of the materiel aboard the Gordon is combat service support equipment: vehicles, food, generators and other support gear. The Shughart will carry combat vehicles and supplies.

The unarmed ship can travel 12,000 miles at 24 knots between refueling. Personnel can unload the entire cargo in four days. Normal ship's crew is 25 civilian mariners under contract to the Military Sealift Command, but there is room for 50 more personnel if DoD must augment the crew.

When not under way, the ship will be based at Charleston (S.C.) Naval Weapons Station. It will rotate approximately every 30 months.

The Gordon is named for Army Master Sgt. Gary I. Gordon, and the Shughart is named for Army Sgt. 1st Class Randall D. Shughart. Both men posthumously received the Medal of Honor for gallantry in Somalia in 1993.

The ships will soon be joined by a new class of roll-on/roll-off ship: the USNS Bob Hope, which will be launched in April.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageStevedores ready to drive vehicles aboard the USNS Gordon at Charleston (S.C.) Naval Weapons Station.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageStevedores drive up one of the ramps of the USNS Gordon during loading operations for the roll-on/roll-off ship in February.  
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