The Algol-class vehicle cargo ships, also known as Fast Sealift Ships (FSS) or SL-7s, are currently the fastest cargo ships in the world, capable of speeds in excess of 33 knots (61 km/h). Originally built in 1972 and 1973 as high-speed container ships known as SL-7's for Sea-Land Services, Inc., the ships' high operating costs limited their profitability. All eight ships were acquired by the US Navy in 1981 and 1982, with the last ship converted, recommissioned and delivered to Military Sealift Command in 1986. The conversion entailed the installation of four cranes, addition of roll on/roll off capability and a redesign of the cargo hold to better facilitate storage of vehicles. Due largely to their high cost of operation, all fast sealift ships are kept in Reduced Operating Status, but can be activated and ready to sail in 96 hours. All ships are named after bright stars in the night sky.
Unfortunately, one FSS, the Antares, failed off the East coast of the United States with a considerable amount of the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) equipment and 100 soldiers aboard. The ship was towed to Rota, Spain by the ocean-going tugboat Apache. Some of the cargo was airlifted to Saudi Arabia but most had to be unloaded and reloaded by the soldiers and Seebees aboard the FSS USNS Altaire returning from her initial voyage. This cargo arrived about three weeks later than planned. (Before the war, the Antares had been scheduled for major overhaul, but this was delayed. Thus a degree of risk was accepted in the decision to use Antares to speed the deployment.)