April 1983 - Maritime Reporter and Engineering News

Bethlehem Lays Keel For First Prepositioning Ship

The first ship's keel to be laid in the U.S. Navy's maritime prepositioning ship program was dedicated recently at Bethlehem Steel Corporation's Sparrows Point, Md., shipyard by Gen.

Paul X. Kelley, Assistant Commandant and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Marine Corps.

In his remarks, General Kelley emphasized the need in the program to continue the long-standing military and shipbuilding traditions of quality and pride.

Those associated with the work on the first TAKX prepositioning ship, he said, are as much a part of the program as are the Navy and Marine teams that will carry it out.

The ceremony was held in the Bethlehem yard's 1,200-foot-long building basin. The Estelle Maersk is owned by a banking consortium and will be operated by affiliates of Maersk Line, Limited, of New York City.

Key participants in the prepositioning ship program who attended the ceremony included Vice Adm. Kent J. Carroll, Commander of the Navy's Military Sealift Command, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy Everett Pyatt, shipbuilding and logistics.

Representing Maersk Line and Bethlehem at the ceremony were Alfred B. Ruhly, president, Maersk; Birger Jurgensen, executive vice president, Maersk; H. Wiboe Nielsen, vice president, operations, Maersk; Richard M.

Smith, vice chairman, Bethlehem; David H. Klinges, Bethlehem's vice president of marine construction, and David Watson, general manager of the Sparrows Point yard, who officiated.

Attending from the Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York, which is acting as the construction financing agent for a 10-bank syndicate, were John A. Scully, senior vice president, and Randee D. Ammon, vice president.

A 32-member contingent from the U.S. Marine Band, with a color guard, was led by Major Charles P. Erwin, senior assistant director.

Upon completion, the ship will be chartered to the Navy's Military Sealift Command. Delivery is scheduled for August 31, 1984.

Ultimately, the Estelle Maersk will be used for mobile, long-term storage of equipment and supplies to meet about 20 percent of the needs of a Marine Amphibious Brigade for one month.

Ships in the program will be stationed at s t r a t e g i c locations throughout the world to provide a rapid deployment capability.

Construction is proceeding on schedule, Mr. Watson said. After arriving at Sparrows Point on December 29, 1982, the ship was drydocked in the building basin on January 15, 1983.

Since that time, the ship has been separated at a point amidship, and the bow section floated and repositioned to allow for the construction of the 157-foot-long new midbody.

As construction progresses, the new midbody will be floated, repositioned, and joined to the stern section. Later, the bow section will be refloated and repositioned to complete the joining phase.

In addition to being lengthened, the external appearance of the ship will be significantly changed by an increased depth— from 54 feet to nearly 70 feet —resulting from the addition of a new upper deck.

Other additions will include new internal decks, ramps, cranes, fuel tanks, repair shops, a helicopter platform, and extra deckhouse accommodations.

For a majority of the additions, Bethlehem is utilizing the newer, more efficient production concepts of modular construction and pre-outfitting with piping, machinery, cable ways, and other major components.

The new accommodation house, for example, will be extensively pre-outfitted and placed on the ship in a single lift as a total unit.

These new accommodations are to handle the extra "surge" of 80 crew members during cargo unloading periods. Under normal circumstances, the ship's crew will number 30. The onboard force also will include seven members of the Military Sealift Command, a communications team of eight, and a maintenance team of 20.

The completed ship will have a 755-foot-length overall, 90-footwide beam, 69-foot 10V>-inch depth, 28,249-long-tons light ship displacement, 46,552 long-tons full-load displacement, and a 32- foot 101 '--inch full-load draft.

A Sulzer 7RND76M diesel en- gine will provide a trial speed of 17.2 knots at 80 percent horsepower.

The ship's range will be 10,800 nautical miles.

Onboard capacities include a vehicle storage area of 122,380 square feet, and provisions for 306 containers for ammunitions and refrigerated cargo, 1.3 million gallons of drummed and bulk petroleum products, 133,246 gallons of potable water, and 595,087 gallons of fuel oil.

The Estelle Maersk is one of five Maersk Line ships being prepared by Bethlehem for TAKX service. Three of the ships will be reconstructed at Sparrows Point and the other two at Bethlehem's Beaumont, Texas yard.

The value of the contracts for Bethlehem is more than $600 million.

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