9 Jan 2012 By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS Defensenews
The Military Sealift Command (MSC) announced Jan. 9 a reorganization of its operating forces in a move to increase efficiency.
"We are proactively streamlining," Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, MSC's commander, said in a statement.
MSC operates virtually all the U.S. Navy's support and auxiliary ships, crewing them with civilian mariners working for the government or civilian contract crews. The 110 ships operated by the command provide fleet services, take on special missions and carry and store military equipment.
Under the reorganization, the ships will operate under five mission programs, including a new Service Support program. Continuing in operation are the Combat Logistics Force (CLF), Special Mission, Prepositioning and Sealift programs.
The former Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force (NFAF) is no more, its ships operating now under the CLF or Service Support programs.
Also, MSC's 12 worldwide Ship Support Units, which previously reported to the Military Sealift Fleet Support Command in Norfolk, Va., now report to MSC's operational area commands: MSC Atlantic in Norfolk; MSC Pacific in San Diego; MSC Europe and Africa in Naples, Italy; MSC Central in Bahrain; and MSC Far East in Singapore.
Three of MSC's six civilian Senior Executive Service (SES) officials are being "repositioned," according to a press release. One SES will oversee MSC's government-operated ships, another will be in charge of contract-operated ships, and another will oversee total force manpower management.
The new Service Support program includes 14 government-operated ships, including the submarine tenders Emory S. Land and Frank Cable, command ship Mount Whitney and the cable laying ship Zeus, all formerly operated by the Special Mission program. Ten more ships previously operated by the NFAF operate now under the Service Support program, including the hospital ships Mercy and Comfort - designated T-AH - T-ATF fleet ocean tugs and T-ARS rescue and salvage ships.
The Combat Logistics Force, previously a subset of the NFAF, comprises 32 government-operated fleet underway replenishment ships, including T-AKE dry cargo/ammunition ships, T-AOE fast combat support ships, T-AO fleet replenishment oilers and T-AE ammunition ships.
The Special Mission program maintains 24 contract-operated ships, including 8 chartered submarine- and special warfare-support ships; 6 T-AGS oceanographic survey ships; 5 T-AGOS ocean surveillance ships; 2 T-AGM missile range instrumentation ships; the navigation test support ship Waters; and the SBX-1 Sea-based X-Band Radar platform with its towing vessel Dove. The program also manages harbor tug contracts on behalf of the Navy's Installations Command.
The prepositioning program maintains 31 large ships positioned worldwide to store military equipment for the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy, and the Defense Logistics Agency. Prepositioning ships are a mix of government-owned and chartered ships. The program also includes the high-speed vessels Swift and WestPac Express, the Marine aviation support ships Curtiss and Wright, and the offshore petroleum distribution system ship Vice Adm. K. R. Wheeler.
The 16 ships of the Sealift program are also a mix of government-owned and long-term charter vessels, including large roll on/roll off ships, dry cargo ships, and tankers. The Ready Reserve Force, a group of 48 support ships maintained in various states of readiness, is also part of the Sealift program.