MARAD Ships Help in Hurricane RecoveryReprinted with permission from http://www.marad.dot.gov/katrina/ShipsMobilized_Katrina.html
Photos courtesy of Paula Campbell, Port Meteorological Officer, New Orleans, Louisiana
Eight ships from MARAD's National Defense Reserve Fleet are serving in the national effort to recover from Hurricane Katrina. Two Ready Reserve Force ships have stood firm in New Orleans, their home port. The Cape Kennedy has provided office space for the operations of the Port of New Orleans; the Cape Knox has supported that effort, and is now fully crewed and ready to sail to support cleanup efforts. Three state maritime academy training ships will provide housing and support for port workers and petroleum industry workers, and three more Ready Reserve Force ships will provide their unique capabilities to underpin the area's economic recovery.
The crane ship Diamond State is in New Orleans, lending its capabilities to help restore port operations there; the crane ship Equality State will sail on Tuesday for Gulfport, MS, to help restore port operations there. The Ready Reserve Force ship Wright is heading to New Orleans from Baltimore. The Wright is a helicopter repair ship, which can provide support for offshore helicopter activity and house more than 325 people.
The Training Ship Sirius has arrived in New Orleans from the Texas Maritime Academy in Galveston; the Sirius is serving as accommodation and offices for personnel. The Training Ship Empire State has been sent from the State University of New York Maritime Academy to provide accommodation and offices to help get the Conoco-Phillips refinery in Belle Chase, LA, up and running again. The Training Ship State of Maine is on its way from the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, ME, also to provide living and office space.
The Ready Reserve Force is a fleet of militarily useful ships, usually used to support the U.S. Armed Forces in time of war or national emergency. Many of the ships from the RRF have been back and forth to the Middle East, supporting armed forces there. RRF ships have frequently been activated to help in recovery efforts from disasters overseas, but this is the first time they have been activated to assist in recovery from a domestic disaster. "The Maritime Administration is working day and night to get these vessels successfully deployed," said Acting Maritime Administrator John Jamian. "What we, and the men and women of the U.S. Merchant Marine, do best is support this nation in time of peace and war." All RRF ships are crewed by U.S. civilian merchant mariners. MARAD also provides training ships for all six state maritime academies; the RRF ships and training ships are all part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet, which MARAD runs.
This deployment also marks the first time that a Secretary of Transportation requested release of RRF vessels by the Department of Defense. In announcing the request on Saturday, September 3, Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta said, "We need now to mobilize resources like these ships that can support what is going to be a long-term commitment to rebuilding the region."
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