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September 6, 2006

MARAD reserve ships tapped for Hurricane relief/b>

Seven ships from MARAD’s National Defense Reserve Fleet have been tapped to serve in the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort.

Three state maritime academy training ships will provide housing and support for port workers and petroleum industry workers, and four specialized Ready Reserve Force ships will provide unique capabilities to underpin the area’s economic recovery.

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. Also needed are the capabilities of the RRF crane ships, which can offload cargo when port facilities are not operable. The crane ship Diamond State will be arriving from Orange, TX. The Equality State has been activated by the Department of Defense, and will be heading to New Orleans from Beaumont, TX. The Cape Flattery, which can carry 85 barges or 1600 containers, and which can also operate in a damaged port, has been standing by in Orange, TX, crewed and ready to depart.

The training ships State of Maine, the Empire State, and the Sirius are being provisioned and are expected to be in New Orleans by the end of the week.

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.

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.”

Two other Ready Reserve Force ships are homeported in New Orleans, and have stayed in New Orleans, throughout the crisis.

The Cape Kennedy has provided an emergency headquarters for the staff of the Port of New Orleans, and port operations are being directed from there.

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