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19 New Cargo Ships Boost Navy Sealift Power

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 17, 1998 – (Note to editors: This sidebar accompanies AFPS Release 98427, New Navy Ship Honors Army Hero, marked as uploaded July 8 as file 9807081.txt, and it includes corrections to errors at the end of the earlier story -- please compare the texts.)

The Military Sealift Command plans to see 19 ships completed by 2001 that will provide some 5 million square feet of cargo space. Of the total, 14 are new construction and five are conversions of commercial vessels.

USNS Seay is the third of seven Bob Hope Class cargo ships being built by Avondale. The first two, christened last year, are USNS Bob Hope and USNS Fisher. The Hope is named for comedian Bob Hope, who entertained U.S. troops for decades since World War II. The Fisher honors Elizabeth and Zachary Fisher, who created a national network of Fisher Houses that provides a "home-away-from-home" for military family members of patients receiving care at military and veterans medical facilities.

National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. of San Diego is building the other seven new ships. The USNS Dahl is scheduled to be christened in October. Army Spc. Larry G. Dahl received the Medal of Honor posthumously for throwing himself on a grenade to save his friends in Vietnam on Feb. 23, 1971.

The five converted commercial container ships already sail in Military Sealift Command service. All are named for Army Medal of Honor recipients.

National Steel and Shipbuilding conversions were the USNS Shughart, delivered May 7, 1996; the USNS Yano, Feb. 8, 1997; and the USNS Soderman, Nov. 11, 1997. Sgt. 1st Class Randall D. Shughart died in Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993 while trying to rescue a downed Army helicopter crew. First Sgt. Rodney J.T. Yano died Jan. 1, 1969, near Bien Hoa, Vietnam. Pfc. William A. Soderman was decorated for valor on Dec. 17, 1944, near Rocherath, Belgium; he survived World War II and died on Oct. 20, 1980.

Newport News Shipbuilding of Newport News, Va., converted the USNS Gordon and delivered it on July 4, 1996. It delivered the USNS Gilliland on May 23, 1997. Master Sgt. Gary I. Gordon died with Shughart. Korean War Medal of Honor recipient Cpl. Charles L. Gilliland was decorated for gallantry on April 25, 1955, near Tongmang-ni, Korea.

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