Bob Hope Class LMSRs 'are the national treasures of our sealift fleet'

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On September 10, U.S. Transportation Command posted this photo (above left) of U.S. Navy and U.S. Army service members and civilians loading 25th Infantry Division equipment onto Military Sealift Command's USNS Brittin at NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor. The joint team loaded the LMSR - named for Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. First Class Nelson V. Brittin - with the equipment destined for U.S. Army Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk. On September 29, USTRANSCOM posted this photo of the USNS Fisher (above right) with the following statement from former MSC Deputy Commander and current U.S. Seventh Fleet Deputy Commander Rear Adm. Robert Clark: "Our Bob Hope Class large, medium-speed roll-on/roll-off (LMSR) ships are the national treasures of our sealift fleet. Because of their enormous capacity to carry almost 400,000 square feet of cargo, LMSRs like Fisher and Brittin are critical to moving major combat equipment for the joint force anywhere in the world on short notice." Both ships are operated for MSC by U.S. Marine Management, Inc. and are manned in all licensed positions by American Maritime Officers, as are all of the LMSRs in the Bob Hope Class.

The following is excerpted from an article posted September 9 by the U.S. Army.

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - The 599th Transportation Brigade and partners uploaded 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division and 25th Combat Aviation Brigade cargo and equipment onto both the USNS Brittin and USNS Fisher for deployment to the Joint Readiness Training Center in Louisiana, August 29 through September 3.

Although the upload of the two ships itself took only a few days, when the USNS Fisher pulled up the stern ramp and left Pearl Harbor, it culminated months of preparation and more than three weeks of on-the-ground reception staging and loading of cargo and equipment.

This movement had begun with reception and staging at the Multi-functional Deployment Facility (MDF) at Wheeler Army Airfield on Aug. 10. From there, Soldiers convoyed their vehicles, cargo and equipment to the port.

This move was a first in many ways. According to Gordon Lowe, 599th deputy operations director, "the simultaneous berthing of two large medium-speed roll-on/ roll-off vessels (LMSRs) at Fleet Logistics Center, Pearl Harbor, was a first, as well as the near simultaneous, back-to-back loading of the two vessels.

"Executing the mission under pandemic conditions was also unprecedented," he added. "This presented several hurdles to obtain the needed reserve support for MDF and port ops, but we ultimately received help from Deployment Support Command and the 9th Mission Support Command. The 12 personnel from DSC had to endure a 14-day restriction-of-movement period upon initial arrival at Schofield Barracks before supporting MDF and port operations.

"Another first was that FLC Pearl Harbor also used its relatively new stevedoring and related terminal services contract to support the loading of the USNS Brittin," Lowe said. "So industry also contributed to mission accomplishment."

The first ship in port and to load was the USNS Brittin. Once the ship was in, operations began with commercial stevedores and Soldiers working to upload helicopters and other cargo from the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade.

Although it had finished uploading, the Brittin remained in port for a day as the USNS Fisher sailed in to dock at a separate wharf. Twenty-four-hour operations began as Soldiers and members of Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 1 uploaded the Fisher beginning on August 31.

The 599th upload team at Pearl Harbor was led by Lt. Col. Joseph Batiste and Sgt. Maj. Carl Woodley, commander and senior enlisted advisor for the 836th Transportation Battalion headquartered in Yokohama, Japan.

"Vessel upload is an arduous and time-consuming process," said Batiste. "It represents the culmination of a gargantuan effort from many stakeholders here on Oahu, from the motor pools of the 2/25th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and 25th CAB; the stringent requirements of the MDF; the many convoys movements from the MDF to the port; the tedious process of manifesting and documenting all of the cargo; and the development of the stow plan for two vessels. Without the hard work and collaboration from all stakeholders, vessel operations could not happen."

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