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USNS Sea Lift (T-LSV 9).
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Class: SEA LIFT (T-LSV 9)
Design: SCB Project Nos. 236 and 712.65 and MA C4-ST-67a
Displacement (tons): 9,154 light, 21,480 full
Dimensions (feet): 540' e, 499' wl x 83' e/wl x 29' max nav
Accommodations: 33 civilian
Speed (kts.): 22
Propulsion (HP): 19,400
Machinery: 2 steam turbines, 2 boilers, 2 screws
|9||SEA LIFT/METEOR||25 Jun 1963||Lockheed SB||19 May 1964||18 Apr 1965||19 May 1967|
|9||SEA LIFT/METEOR||T||30 Oct 1985||None?||1 Sep 1985||MA/T||25 Jun 2015|
Navy acquisition of roll-on/roll-off ships lapsed after COMET was ordered in 1955. On 15 June 1961 the U.S. Army rear services command in Europe reported to the Army Chief of Transportation in Washington that for the past 18 month a portion of the critical supplies for the European theater had been shipped in trailer-van services via the two roll-on/roll-off vessela then in service (COMET and TAURUS). This had resulted in a reduction in the average time from CONUS to USAREUR from 60-90 days to 25 days and a reduction in the Army's air movement requirement. The only drawback was the current 10-15 days spread between vessel arivals. USAREUR recommended that additional ships be procured to reduce this gap to a guaranteed weekly service. On 10 August 1961 the Chief of Staff of the Army informed CNO that the current peacetime express service, shipped in trailer-vans via the two roll-on/roll-off vessels then in operation between CONUS and Army forces in Europe, had developed into a useful, economical and indeed indispensable form of support to the Seventh United States Army. It also enhanced the Army's ability to respond to emergency situations. He expressed the Army's interest in Navy plans for the construction of additional ships of this type, which would be a substantial step toward assembling a rapid means of uniting air transported combat forces with their supporting equipment in an overseas area. The new Kennedy administration was interested in improving U.S. strategic mobility, and on 22 August 1961 CNO replied that the funding program recently submittedby the Navy to DOD included procurement of five additional RO/RO ships, one per year from FY 1963 to FY 1967, with each ship becoming operational two years after funding. This package was awaiting approval by SECDEF. Approved characteristics for a Vehicle Cargo Ship (T-LSV RO/RO), SCB Project No. 236 (SEA LIFT), were promulgated on 23 July 1962 and updated for FY 1964 on 4 April 1963 and as SCB Project No. 712.65 for FY 1965 on 5 December 1963 with a final change to SCB 236 on 8 May 1964.
Congress rejected the second RO/RO in the FY 1964 budget request pending results of an operational evaluation between COMET and a fast freighter using conventional offloading. Reportedly commercial interests opposed construction. The second RO/RO was again requested for FY 1965. Congress rejected her as a navy ship but bought her as a testbed for large ship gas turbine propulsion under an innovative build/charter scheme. She entered service in December 1967 under the name ADMIRAL W. M. CALLAGHAN as a commercial vessel under charter to MSTS. In November 1964 the Navy was supporting a Roll On/Roll Off Ship Program that would provide for the phased replacement of the aging general-purpose cargo ships (T-AK) in the MSTS fleet and take the Navy from 3 RO/ROs and 13 large T-AKs in FY 1966 to 12 RO/ROs and 5 large T-AKs in FY 1973. However in December 1964 SECDEF added to the FY 1966 budget request four modified RO/RO ships called Fast Deployment Logistic Ships (FDL) as part of a Sealift/Airlift Program to enhance Army strategic mobility that also included R&D funds for a new Air Force heavy lift aircraft (the C-5). The DOD project put an immediate end to the Navy RO/RO program, and in 1965 BUSHIPS produced a skech design for the FDL as Project No. 720.66. Two of the FY 1966 FDLs were approved by Congress, but no FDLs were requested for FY 1967 and those requested for FY 1968 and 1969 were deleted by Congress along with the two FY 1966 ships. The program was a victim of the fiscal austerity and anti-war sentiment caused by the buildup in Vietnam in the late 1960s, and the Navy did not get its next RO/ROs until it acquired AKR 10-11 in 1980.
SEA LIFT was accepted by the Navy from her builder on 29 April 1967 for an availability to correct deficiencies and was accepted by MSTS at Seattle on 19 May 1967. On 25 September 1968 effective 1 January 1969 T-LSV 9 was reclassified to T-AKR 9. On 12 September 1975 SECNAV changed the name of T-AKR 9 from SEA LIFT to METEOR. She served in commission in MSC with a Navy crew to 1985, then was transferred to MA custody (RRF) on 30 Oct 1985. The NVR reported title transfer to MA on 1 Sep 1985 but she remained in the NVR to at least January 1995.
|9||SEA LIFT/METEOR||167||FY 1963. [Launch 17.4.65 NVR.] Ex T-AK 278 1 Jun 1963. On 25 September 1968 effective 1 January 1969 SEA LIFT (T-LSV 9) was reclassified to T-AKR 9. Renamed METEOR 12 Sep 1975. To RDF 3 Apr 1980, deployed to the Indian Ocean in mid-1980 with Marine equipment as a near-term prepositioning ship. To MA custody 30 Oct 1985 (RRF at Los Angeles, RRF Hunters Point, RRF Oakland CA Oct 1996, to SBRF as RRF homeport 29 Feb 2000). From RRF to NDRF retention Jul 2006, to non-retention Jan 2008. Scrapping contract with All Star Metals LLC, Brownsville effective 25 Jun 2015, signed by company 29 Jun 2015. Departed SBRF 29 Jul 2015 for Brownsville. BU completed 4 Apr 2016.|
Compiled: 13 Aug 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Sources: Norman Friedman, U.S. Amphibious Ships and Craft, (Annapolis, 2002).