National Defense Reserve Fleet

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NDRF ships at Suisun Bay, California

The National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) consists of "mothballed" ships, mostly merchant vessels, that can be activated within 20 to 120 days to provide shipping for the United States of America during national emergencies, either military or non-military, such as commercial shipping crises.

The NDRF is managed by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration (MARAD). It is a different entity from the United States Navy reserve fleets, which consist largely of warships.

NDRF vessels are at the fleet sites at James River, Virginia–the 'James River Reserve Fleet'; Beaumont, Texas–the 'Beaumont Reserve Fleet'; and Suisun Bay, California- the 'Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet'; and at designated outported berths. Former anchorage sites included Stony Point, New York - the Hudson River Reserve Fleet; Wilmington, North Carolina; Mobile, Alabama; Astoria, Oregon; and Olympia, Washington.

Through the 2010s, the oldest, most decrepit hulls at Suisun Bay will be stripped of toxic materials, then broken up in Texas, California or Asia. Twenty of the most polluting mothball ships were slated for recycling by 2012, and another 32 by 2017.

At its peak in 1950, the NDRF had 2,277 ships in lay-up. In 2003, it had 274. In July 2007, it held 230 ships, primarily dry cargo ships with some tankers, military auxiliaries and other types. As of January 2018, the number of ships was down to 98[1]

History[edit]

The NDRF was established under Section 11 of the Merchant Ship Sales Act of 1946 to serve as a reserve of ships for national defense and national emergencies.

NDRF vessels were used in seven wars and crises. During the Korean War, 540 vessels were broken out to move military forces. During a worldwide tonnage shortfall in 1951–53, more than 600 ships were reactivated to carry coal to Northern Europe and grain to India. From 1955 through 1964, another 600 ships were used to store grain for the Department of Agriculture. Another 223 cargo ships and 29 tankers were activated during a tonnage shortfall after the Suez Canal was closed in 1956. During the Berlin Crisis of 1961, 18 vessels were activated and remained in service until 1970. Another 172 vessels were activated for the Vietnam War.

Ready Reserve Force[edit]

In 1976, a Ready Reserve Force component was established as a subset of the NDRF to provide rapid deployment of military equipment and later became known as the Ready Reserve Force, which numbers 72 vessels. These are crewed with a reduced crew but kept available for activation within four, five, ten or twenty days.[2]

An additional 28 ships are held under United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) custody for other Government agencies on a cost-reimbursable basis.

Operations[edit]

USS Iowa (BB-61) was in the custody of MARAD in the NDRF at Suisun Bay from 2001 to 2011.

Vessels with military utility or logistic value are held in retention status and are in a preservation program that is designed to keep them in the same condition as when they enter the fleet. The internal spaces are dehumidified to slow the corrosion of metal and the growth of mold and mildew. DC power is distributed through anodes to the exterior underwater portions of the hull, creating an electric field that suppresses corrosion and preserves the surface of the hull. External painting and other cosmetic work is generally deferred since it does not affect the ability to activate and operate the vessel.

MARAD is authorized as the government’s disposal agent through the NDRF program for merchant type vessels equal to or greater than 1,500 gross tons. A state agency can file an application to request title to a vessel "as-is where-is" from the NDRF for the purpose of creating an artificial reef. A total of 51 vessels have been transferred to 10 states under the program including: Texas (12), Florida (10), North Carolina (7), Virginia (6), Alabama (5), Mississippi (5), Georgia (2), South Carolina (2), California (1) and New Jersey (1). Of the 132 non-retention vessels in the NDRF, there are 117 that are being prepared for disposal.

The NDRF program can give and lend historic artifacts to maritime-heritage organizations and transfer entire ships to memorial associations through special legislation.

Inactive U.S. Navy auxiliary ships of the James River Reserve Fleet (1996)

Inactive naval ships of merchant design, including amphibious ships but not ships maintained in a mobilization status by MARAD for Military Sealift Command (MSC), may be laid up in the NDRF when overcrowded berthing conditions exist at a Navy Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility. Battleships, cruisers, and aircraft carriers which have been stricken or those awaiting final disposition may be transferred to MARAD locations for berthing.

Initially, these ships will be transferred to MARAD for caretaking in accordance with the Economy Act of 1932.

Ships transferred to the NDRF may be retained in Navy Mobilization Plans and maintained by MARAD under priorities set by the Department of the Navy. If the navy decides it no longer needs the ship, the secretary of the navy strikes the ship from the Naval Vessel Register and transfers the title to MARAD. When possible, MARAD gets first disposition rights, which allows it to convert merchant ships to the Ready Reserve Force (RRF) or to sell the ship for scrapping in connection with the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, Sec. 508 and use the proceeds to buy more supply ships.[3]

Fleet reduction[edit]

Mothballed ships in Suisun Bay, California in 2010. The battleship Iowa can be seen at the far end of the first row

The Suisun Bay location contained 324 ships in 1959.[4] Forty years later, the number was down by about 250, but pollutants had begun to accumulate in the area. Paint containing toxins such as lead, copper, zinc and barium had been flaking off many of the ships' hulls and superstructures. By June 2007, some 21 tons of toxic paint debris was estimated to have been shed from the ships, to settle in the bay sediment.[5] A further 65 tons of paint was estimated to be in danger of flaking off.[5]

David Matsuda, acting administrator of MARAD, said in March 2010 "We are moving expeditiously to remove the worst-polluting ships first and diligently moving to clean the rest."[6] Some 52 ships were identified as problematic, and were scheduled for removal and recycling by September 2017.[5] The process began in October 2009; as of October 2012, 36 ships had been removed and the disposal effort was ahead of schedule.[7] One such vessel, the SS Winthrop, the last Victory ship of the California mothball fleet, was towed in March 2010 to BAE Systems San Francisco Ship Repair dock to be cleaned of barnacles and plant matter before its final journey to ship breakers in Brownsville, Texas.[8] The hull cleaning was prescribed by the U.S. Coast Guard to prevent the spread of California species to other locations.[5] Some of the recycling work may be completed in the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically at the former Mare Island Naval Shipyard—an application for such work is under permit review. Some $38 million in federal funds will be used to complete the dismantling project.[citation needed]

List of NDRF ships[edit]

Name Division Hull No. Year Built Design Home Port Status
RRF - Tanker
Petersburg Gulf AOT 9101 1963 Stm/50K San Francisco, CA RRF
RRF - Roll-On/Roll-Off
Admiral W. M. Callaghan Pacific AKR 1001 1967 Gas Turbine Alameda, CA RRF
Algol Pacific T-AKR 287 1972 Navy Cargo San Francisco, CA RRF
Altair Gulf T-AKR 291 1973 Navy Cargo Marrerro, LA RRF
Antares Atlantic T-AKR 294 1973 Navy Cargo Baltimore, MD RRF
Bellatrix Gulf T-AKR 288 1973 Navy Cargo Marrerro, LA RRF
Cape Decision Atlantic AKR 5054 1973 G1-Dsl/s Charleston, SC RRF
Cape Diamond Atlantic AKR 5055 1972 G1-Dsl/F Charleston, SC RRF
Cape Domingo Atlantic AKR 5053 1973 G1-Dsl/F Charleston, SC RRF
Cape Douglas Atlantic AKR 5052 1973 G1-Dsl/F Charleston, SC RRF
Cape Ducato Atlantic AKR 5051 1972 G1-Dsl/F Charleston, SC RRF
Cape Edmont Atlantic AKR 5069 1971 G0-Dsl/S Charleston, SC RRF
Cape Henry Pacific AKR 5067 1979 G2-Dsl/Japan San Francisco, CA RRF
Cape Horn Pacific AKR 5068 1979 G2-Dsl/N San Francisco, CA RRF
Cape Hudson Pacific AKR 5066 1979 G2-Dsl/N San Francisco, CA RRF
Cape Inscription Pacific AKR 5076 1976 C7-S-95a Long Beach, CA RRF
Cape Intrepid Pacific T-AKR11 1976 C7-S-95a Tacoma, WA RRF
Cape Isabel Pacific AKR 5062 1976 C7-S-95a Long Beach, CA RRF
Cape Island Pacific T-AKR10 1977 C7-S-95a Tacoma, WA RRF
Cape Kennedy Gulf AKR 5083 1979 Dsl/Netherland New Orleans, LA RRF
Cape Knox Gulf AKR 5082 1978 Dsl/Netherland New Orleans, LA RRF
Cape Orlando Pacific AKR 2044 1981 Dsl/Sweden Alameda, CA RRF
Cape Race Atlantic AKR 9960 1977 Dsl/Japan Portsmouth, VA RRF
Cape Ray Atlantic AKR 9679 1977 Dsl/Japan Portsmouth, VA RRF
Cape Rise Atlantic AKR 9678 1977 Dsl/Japan Portsmouth, VA RRF
Cape Taylor Gulf AKR 113 1977 Dsl/Japan Port of Beaumont, TX RRF
Cape Texas Gulf AKR 112 1977 Dsl/Japan Port of Beaumont, TX RRF
Cape Trinity Gulf AKR 9711 1977 Dsl/Germany Port of Beaumont, TX RRF
Cape Victory Gulf AKR 9701 1984 Dsl/Italy MLF, Orange, TX RRF
Cape Vincent Gulf AKR 9666 1984 Dsl/Italy MLF, Orange, TX RRF
Cape Washington Atlantic AKR 9961 1982 Dsl/Poland Baltimore, MD RRF
Cape Wrath Atlantic AKR 9962 1982 Dsl/Poland Baltimore, MD RRF
Capella Pacific T-AKR 293 1972 Navy Cargo San Francisco, CA RRF
Denebola Atlantic T-AKR 289 1973 Navy Cargo Baltimore, MD RRF
Pollux Gulf T-AKR 290 1973 Navy Cargo MLF, Orange, TX RRF
Regulus Gulf T-AKR 292 1972 Navy Cargo MLF, Orange, TX RRF
RRF - Crane Ship
Cornhusker State Atlantic T-ACS 6 1969 C5-S-MA73c Newport News, VA RRF
Flickertail State Atlantic T-ACS 5 1967 C5-S-MA73c Newport News, VA RRF
Gem State Pacific T-ACS 2 1966 C6-S-MA1qd Alameda, CA RRF
Gopher State Atlantic T-ACS4 1972 C5-S-MA73c Newport News, VA RRF
Grand Canyon State Pacific T-ACS 3 1965 C6-s-MA1qd Alameda, CA RRF
Keystone State Pacific T-ACS 1 1966 C6-S-MA1qd Alameda, CA RRF
RRF - Break Bulk
Curtiss Pacific T-AVB 4 1969 C5-S-78a San Diego, CA RRF
Wright Atlantic T-AVB 3 1970 C5-S-78a Philadelphia, PA RRF
RRF - Barge Ship
Cape Mohican Pacific AKR 5065 1973 C8-S-82a Oakland, CA RRF
Retention - Tanker
Paul Buck Gulf T-AOT 1122 1985 Champion BRF, Beaumont, TX Interim Hold
Richard G. Matthiesen Gulf T-AOT 1124 1985 Champion BRF, Beaumont, TX Militarily Useful
Samuel L. Cobb Gulf T-AOT 1123 1985 Champion BRF, Beaumont, TX Interim Hold
Retention - Passenger Ship
Empire State Atlantic TAP 1001 1962 S5-S-MA1ua Ft. Schuyler, NY School Ship
Golden Bear Pacific T-AGS 39 1971 S4-M-MA154a Vallejo, CA School Ship
Kennedy Atlantic TAK 5059 1967 S5-S-MA66b Buzzards Bay, MA School Ship
State of Maine Atlantic T-AGS 40 1989 S4-M-MA154b Castine, ME School Ship
Retention - Other
FB-62 (APL BARGE) Pacific APL-24 1944 Barracks CRF SBRF, Suisun Bay, CA Fleet Support
Freedom Star (R) Atlantic 7925314 1981 Research Vessel Piney Point, MD School Ship
Kings Pointer Atlantic 7925302 1981 Research Kings Point, NY School Ship
Pacific Collector Pacific T-AGS 29 1970 S3-M-MA-153c Portland, OR Other Agency Use
Pacific Tracker Pacific MA #144 1965 S6-S-MA60e Portland, OR Other Agency Use
Retention - Military
General Rudder Gulf T-AGOS 2 1984 Navy OcnSurv Galveston, TX School Ship
State of Michigan Gulf T-AGOS 6 1985 Navy OcnSurv Traverse City, MI School Ship
Triumph Pacific T-AGOS 4 1984 Navy OcnSurv SBRF, Suisun Bay, CA Logistics Support
Retention - Crane Ship
Diamond State Gulf T-ACS 7 1960 C6-S-MA1xb BRF, Beaumont, TX Logistics Support
Green Mountain State Pacific T-ACS 9 1965 C6-S-MA60d SBRF, Suisun Bay, CA Logistics Support
Retention - Break Bulk
Cape Ann Atlantic AK 5009 1962 C4-S-58a JRRF, James River, VA Training Use
Cape Bover Pacific AK 5057 1966 C4-S-66a SBRF, Suisun Bay, CA Logistics Support
Cape Chalmers Atlantic AK 5036 1963 C3-S-37c Charleston, SC Training Use
Cape Gireadeau Pacific AK 2039 1968 C5-S-75a SBRF, Suisun Bay, CA Logistics Support
Cape Jacob Pacific TAK 5029 1961 C4-S-1u SBRF, Suisun Bay, CA Logistics Support
Cape Juby Atlantic TAK 5077 1962 C4-S-1u JRRF, James River, VA Logistics Support
Cape Nome Atlantic AK 1014 1969 C5-S-78a JRRF, James River, VA Logistics Support
Del Monte Atlantic MA 200 1968 C3-S-76a Little Creek, VA Training Use
Savannah Atlantic 55 1962 P2-N1-MA40a Baltimore, MD National Register
Retention - Barge Ship
Cape Farewell Gulf AK 5073 1973 C9-S-81d BRF, Beaumont, TX Militarily Useful
Cape Fear Pacific AK 5061 1971 C8-S-81b SBRF, Suisun Bay, CA Logistics Support
Cape Flattery Gulf AK 5070 1973 C9-S-81d BRF, Beaumont, TX Militarily Useful
Cape Mendocin Gulf AKR 5064 1972 C8-S-82a BRF, Beaumont, TX Logistics Support
Non-retention - Tanker
Chesapeake Gulf AOT 5084 1964 Stm/50K BRF, Beaumont, TX Stripping
Non-retention - Roll-On/Roll-Off
Cape Lobos Gulf AKR 5078 1972 Dsl/Canada BRF, Beaumont, TX Disposal
Non-retention - Other
Harkness Atlantic T-AGS 32 1967 S4-M-MA153b Brownsville, TX Disposal
Non-retention - Military
Observation Island Gulf T-AGM 28 1954 C4-S-1a BRF, Beaumont, TX Disposal
Simon Lake Atlantic AS-33 1964 Sub Tender JRRF, James River, WA Disposal
Sumner Gulf T-AGS 61 1992 Navy OcnSurv BRF, Beaumont, TX Disposal
Tripoli Gulf LPH-10 1966 Amphib, Helo BRF, Beaumont, TX Disposal
Non-retention - Crane Ship
Equality State Gulf T-ACS 8 1962 C6-S-MA1xb BRF, Beaumont, TX Disposal
Non-retention - Break Bulk
Cape Alava Atlantic AK 5012 1962 C4-S-58a JRRF, James River, VA Disposal
Cape Alexander Atlantic AK 5010 1962 C4-S-58a JRRF, James River, VA Disposal
Cape Archway Atlantic AK 5011 1963 C4-S-58a JRRF, James River, VA Disposal
Cape Avinoff Atlantic AK 5013 1963 C4-S-58a JRRF, James River, VA Stripping
Cape Borda Pacific AK 5058 1967 C4-S-66a Brownsville, TX Disposal
Cape Breton Pacific AK 5056 1967 C4-S-66a Brownsville, TX Disposal
Cape Gibson Gulf AK 5051 1968 C5-S-75a BRF, Beaumont, TX Disposal
Cape Johnson Atlantic TAK 5075 1962 C4-S-1u Brownsville, TX Disposal
Non-retention - Barge Ship
Cape Florida Gulf AK 5071 1971 C8-S-81B BRF, Beaumont, TX Stripping
Custody - Other
Bravante IX Gulf SV 290 2014 Offshore Supply BRF, Beaumont, TX Title XI
Iris Pacific WLB 395 1943 Buoy Tender SBRF, Suisun Bay, CA USCG
Planetree Pacific WLB 307 1943 Buoy Tender SBRF, Suisun Bay, CA USCG
Custody - Military
Nassau Gulf LHA-4 1979 Amphib, Helo BRF, Beaumont, TX Navy
Custody - Barge
Army Barges Gulf No Number 2009 Barge BRF, Beaumont, TX Army
  • Current as of January 2018[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "NDRF Inventory" (PDF). 31 December 2017. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Ship Inventory: Ready Reserve Force Ships". Military Sealift Command. Retrieved November 21, 2011.
  3. ^ "National Defense Reserve Fleet". Naval Vessel Register. Archived from the original on December 25, 2011. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
  4. ^ "Editorial: Settlement on rotting ships a good one". InsideBayArea. The Oakland Tribune. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c d Peele, Thomas (July 8, 2007). "State demands toxic paint from ships be cleaned". InsideBayArea. The Oakland Tribune. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  6. ^ Anthony, Laura (March 31, 2010). "Feds to remove toxic ships from Suisun Bay". ABC KGO-TV Local News. abc7news.com. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  7. ^ "U.S. Transportation Secretary Visits Suisun Bay to Celebrate Surpassing Goal in Recycling of Obsolete Vessels". Maritime Administration. U.S. Department of Transportation. October 12, 2012. Retrieved March 29, 2013.
  8. ^ York, Jessica A. (March 18, 2010). "Last of WWII Victory ships to be removed from Suisun Bay". Vallejo Times-Herald. The MediaNewsGroup. Retrieved April 5, 2010.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°04′18″N 122°05′48″W / 38.07161°N 122.09673°W / 38.07161; -122.09673