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Ready Reserve Force (RRF) 

Overview

Activations
Ready Reserve Force Ship Manager Contracts
Sources and Resources

The Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration (MARAD) maintains cargo ships in the Ready Reserve Force (RRF) to provide prompt sealift support in the event they are needed for the rapid deployment of military forces. The RRF was created on 14 February 1977 specifically to enhance the readiness of sealift to respond rapidly in any contingency. The RRF (a quick response subset of the NDRF) is a select group of ships within the NDRF, which are relatively modern, highly militarily useful ships, rigorously maintained to meet Coast Guard and American Bureau of Shipping standards.

Ships for the RRF are acquired by upgrading selected ships from the NDRF, transferring merchant-type ships from the Navy, or direct purchases from U.S. or foreign owners. All RRF vessels must have both a high degree of military utility and a significant remaining useful life. MarAd contracts with established ship managers for maintenance and repair, activation, manning and operation Readiness of the RRF is tested by no-notice activations of randomly selected ships or scheduled activations for military cargo operations and exercises. RRF ships are also used as platforms for cargo handling training by Navy and Army reserve units. Some RRF vessels also receive modifications and improvements to make them more militarily useful. 

The RRF includes RO/RO cargo ships, breakbulk ships, barge carriers, Auxiliary Crane Ships (ACSs), tankers, and two troop ships for surge sealift requirement which are capable of handling bulky, oversized military equipment. There is a shortage of RO/RO ships on the commercial market making RRF ships especially valuable. Thirty-one of the required 36 RO/ROs needed in the RRF, based on the Mobility Requirements Study (MRS) and MRS Bottom Up Review Update (BURU), have been acquired. To attain the program total of 36 RO/ROs, five more ships need to be purchased and upgraded. These five ships represent 550,000 square feet of capacity — a heavy brigade's worth of lift. The RRF is expected to increase to a total of 100 ships with the addition of five more roll-on/roll-off vessels and one auxiliary crane ship by 2000.

Some ships in the RRF are strategically located at outport locations to avoid congestion, be closer to actual military cargo loading ports, and to provide quick response to military force requirements, while other RRF ships are at other sites in CONUS and overseas. The Outporting Program provides contracted lay berths for RRF ships near the expected loading ports for defense cargoes. At year's end, 53 RRF vessels were assigned to outport locations, 20 on the East Coast, 10 on the Gulf Coast, and 20 on the West Coast. Three small, shallow-draft tankers are outported in Japan. MARAD berths 11 ships in its Ready Reserve Fleet at the former Alameda Naval Air Station navy base.

The Ready Reserve Force is managed by MARAD, but starting with fiscal year 1996, the RRF is funded from the Navy-controlled National Defense Sealift Fund, not through the Department of Transportation's budget as in the past. On average, it costs between $2 million and $3 million per ship per year to maintain the RRF ships in 4- to 20-day readiness status. The FY 1998 level for the RRF is $302 million. MARAD will maintain the current readiness level of the RRF with the $260 million requested by DOD for FY 1999 activities through planned capacity reductions. 

They are crewed by Maritime Administration (MARAD) personnel in an increased state of readiness that would permit their activation within four, five, ten and twenty days to meet surge military sealift requirements in the event of war. The highest priority vessels, which are all Roll-on/Roll-off (RO/RO) ships, are maintained in a status which permits reliable activation within 4 or 5 days at their berth sites, allowing expedited loading of critical surge DOD equipment. These vessels have Reduced Operating Status (ROS) crews of merchant mariners aboard carrying out a planned maintenance program. The ROS crews become a part of the operating crew that serves on the activated vessels. The outport and ROS crew provisions greatly enhance the probability of successful activation as has been demonstrated in all recent vessel call-ups. RRF vessels have consistently exceeded activation requirements. When activated, RRF ships come under the operational control of the Military Sealift Command, and are crewed by civilian American seafarers whose normal jobs are aboard the tankers, grain carriers, containerships and other US-flag merchant ships serving the nation's domestic and foreign commerce. More than 3,100 merchant mariners would be required to crew all 98 ships.

MARAD carries on a program of planned periodic activation of RRF vessels. High priority vessels perform an annual sea trial (4 and 5 day readiness status vessels). Lesser priority vessels perform sea trials in alternate years consistent with their particular readiness status. This program was established to further enhance the probability of successful activation by providing a real time insight into the material condition of the vessels. This enables MARAD to make timely maintenance decisions and repairs and better allocate resources.

Activations  Return to Top

The first large-scale activation of RRF ships came in support of operations in the Persian Gulf in 1990 and 1991. On short notice, 3,000 civilians seafarers volunteered to crew the 79 RRF ships activated. In all, U.S.-flag ships with civilian American crews carried about 80 percent of the supplies needed by American and Allied forces in that conflict. In addition to RRF ships, this included U.S.-flag ships in commercial service and commercial ships under charter to the military, as well as cargo ships dedicated to military service.

In 1992, several RRF ships operated in support of humanitarian efforts in Somalia. 

In 1994, 14 RRF ships were activated to support America's armed forces in Haiti. More than 400 civilian American seafarers were required to crew them. All were activated ahead of schedule, with an average activation time of 3.1 days. 

In support of the deployment of NATO's Rapid Reaction Force intervention in the Bosnia conflict, President Clinton committed the United States to supply sealift capability to move vehicles, ammunition and support equipment to Croatia. Two MARAD RRF ships, the CAPE RACE and CAPE DIAMOND (homeported in Jacksonville) were called upon to carry NATO's cargo in support of Britain's 24th Air Mobile Brigade. The CAPE RACE and CAPE DIAMOND carried more than 92 percent of the total cargo transferred from the UK to Croatia. Included were 2,015 military vehicles, 232 containers and 3,629 pallets of breakbulk cargo. Upon completion of the final delivery, the CAPE RACE was released for return to the United States, stopping briefly at Rota, Spain, to pick up a load of U.S. military cargo on its way to Norfolk. 

Ready Reserve Force Ship Manager Contracts
June 1998
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Ship Manager

Contract Amount
Term

RRF Ships Assigned

Where Located

Apex Marine Ship Management
Lake Success, N.Y.

$7,870,195
5 years

$13,792,725
5 years


$5,074,365
5 years


$9,052,940
5 years


$1,384,143
3.25 years

Cape Juby
Cape Johnson

Cape Taylor
Cape Texas
Cape Trinity

Cape John
Cape Jacob


Diamond State
Equality State


Gulf Gulf
Trader Banker

JRRF
Baltimore

Houston
Houston
Houston

BRF
BRF


Houston
Houston


BRF
BRF

Interocean Ugland Management Corp.
Voorhees, N.J.
$10,923,265
5 years


$6,257,735
5 years

$4,620,530
5 years

$6,257,735
5 years

$10,844,615
5 years

Gopher State
Flickertail State
Cornhusker State

Cape Mendocino
Cape May

Comet
Meteor

Cape Fear
Cape Mohican

Wright
Curtiss
Cape Nome

Prepositioning Ship
Cheatham Annex, Va.
Cheatham Annex

JRRF
Norfolk, Va.

NAS Alameda, Calif.
NAS Alameda

SBRF
Oakland, Calif.

Baltimore
Port Hueneme, Calif.
JRRF

Keystone Shipping Services, Inc.
Bala Cynwyd, Pa.
$9,575,500
5 years

$9,575,500
5 years

$9,575,500
5 years

$13,822,690
5 years


$9,452,330
5 years

Cape Kennedy
Cape Knox

Cape Victory
Cape Vincent

Admiral Callaghan
Cape Orlando

Cape Henry
Cape Horn
Cape Hudson

Green Mountain State
Beaver State

New Orleans
New Orleans

Beaumont, Texas
Beaumont

San Francisco
San Francisco

San Francisco
San Francisco
San Francisco

Bremerton, Wash.
Bremerton

Mormac Marine Enterprises, Inc.
Stamford, Conn.
$2,028,988
5 years


$3,983,130
3.25 years

$4,097,519
5 years


$8,882,610
5 years

$2,104.350
5 years

Lake
Scan
Cape Catawba

Cape Lambert
Cape Lobos

Cape Archway
Cape Alexander
Cape Alava

Cape Ann
Cape Avinof

Mission Buenaventura
Mission Capistrano

JRRF
JRRF
Cheatham Annex

Wilmington, N.C.
Wilmington

Baltimore
Baltimore
JRRF

Baltimore
Baltimore

BRF
BRF

Marine Transport Lines, Inc.
Weehawken, N.J.
$1,821,710
3.25 years

$10,155,570
5 years

$10,155,570
5 years

$10,155,570
5 years

$1,821,710
3.25 years

Cape Cod
Cape Chalmers

Cape Edmont
Cape Ducato

Cape Decision
Cape Douglas

Cape Diamond
Cape Domingo

Cape Bon
Northern Light

JRRF
JRRF

Charleston, S.C.
Charleston

Charleston
Charleston

Charleston
Charleston

SBRF
SBRF

Ocean Duchess, Inc.
Houston
$3,036,000
5 years
Alatna
Chattahoohchee
Nodaway
Tsuneishi, Japan
Tsuneishi, Japan
Tsuneishi, Japan
Patriot Contract Services, LLC
Walnut Creek, Calif.
$6,895,110
5 years

$9,247,810
5 years

$8,384,140
5 years

Cape Breton
Cape Bover

Cape Blanco
Cape Borda

Cape Gibson
Cape Girardeau

Alameda, Calif.
Alameda

Alameda
Alameda

Alameda
Alameda

Pacific-Gulf Marine, Inc Gretna, La. $1,242,027
3.25 years

$1,242,027
3.25 years

Pioneer Commander
Pioneer Contractor

Banner
Courier

BRF
BRF

BRF
BRF

Sea-Land Service,Inc.
Charlotte, N.C.
$13,729,875
5 years


$8,860,450
5 years

$9,299,650
5 years

$8,860,450
5 years

Cape Race
Cape Ray
Cape Rise

Cape Washington
Cape Wrath

Cape Intrepid
Cape Island

Cape Isabel
Cape Inscription

Portsmouth, Va.
Portsmouth
Portsmouth

Baltimore
Baltimore

Tacoma,Wash.
Tacoma

Long Beach, Calif.
Long Beach

V Ships Marine, Limited
Mineola, N.Y.
$3,722,850.00
5 years


$3,305,660
5 years

$8,458,890
3.25 years

$14,631,130
5 years

Cape Florida
Cape Flattery
Cape Farewell

American Osprey
Potomac

Chesapeake
Mount Washington

Keystone State
Gem State
Grand Canyon State
Petersburg

BRF
BRF
BRF

Prepo
Prepo

San Francisco
Houston

Alameda
Alameda
Alameda
Port Arthur, Tex.

Key: JRRF=the James River Reserve Fleet site in Virginia.; BRF=the Beaumont, Texas, Reserve Fleet; SBRF=Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet in California; Prepo=serves as a maritime prepositioning ship for the armed forces.

Sources and Resources  Return to Top

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