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Navy Cargo Ship Sinks to Move Army Watercraft
Navy News Service
December 21, 2004

SOUTHAMPTON, England - MV American Cormorant, a 738-foot ship chartered by the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command 'sank' off the southern coast of the United Kingdom in order to load eleven U.S. Army watercraft Nov. 30.

American Cormorant is a heavy-lift, float-on/float-off ship specially designed to move outsized cargo like oil rigs, yachts and other watercraft that would be impossible to load aboard ship using conventional methods. Instead, American Cormorant floods her internal ballast tanks until her main deck is submerged below the waterline. Cargo is then floated aboard and held in position by custom-fit cradles and guideposts until the ship can de-ballast and the cargo can be lashed onto the deck.

The U.S. Army watercraft American Cormorant loaded three shore tug boats, four small loading craft, one 200-foot crane barge, one 120-foot fuel barge and two other larger landing craft. The Army craft will be used by troops in theater to open ports where normal facilities are damaged, destroyed or too primitive to be used.

Heavy-lift ships like American Cormorant are often called upon to participate in unusual missions.

"More than 200 companies were notified of the special requirements to move these watercraft to the Middle East," said David Hatcher, a marine transportation specialist with Military Sealift Command headquarters in Washington, "Using a ship like American Cormorant was the only way to go for this transport."



American Cormorant was built as an oil tanker in 1975. She was modified in 1982 to carry offshore oil rigs. She later carried her first watercraft for the British navy during the Falklands war in the early 1980s.

Another ship of this type, MV Blue Marlin, was chartered by MSC in late 2000 to return the damaged guided-missile destroyer USS Cole to the United States for repairs after she suffered a terrorist attack in Yemen.

MSC operates more than 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish Navy ships at sea, chart ocean bottoms, conduct undersea surveillance, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move 95 percent of military equipment and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces.


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