Fifth Maritime Prepositioning Ship Delivered By Bethlehem-Beaumont

The 1st Lt. Alex Bonnyman, delivered recently by Bethlehem Steel Corporation's Beaumont (Texas) Yard, is the fifth and final vessel to be reconstructed by Bethlehem for the U.S. Navy's Maritime Prepositioning Ship Program. The Bonnyman and her four sister ships, which will be chartered to the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command, are owned by a banking consortium and will be operated by Maersk Lines, Limited of New York City.

The converted ship was christened by Mrs. Frances Bonnyman Evans, daughter of the World War II Marine Corps hero for whom the vessel is named. Her daughter, Catherine Evans, served as maid of honor. For his battlefield heroism on the South Pacific island of Tarawa, Lt. Bonnyman was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Guest speaker at the naming ceremony was U.S. Representative Ben G. Blaz, Delegate to Congress from Guam.

The Bonnyman and her sister ships will provide the capability for quick reaction by Marine Corps troops at trouble spots anywhere in the world. To meet these mission requirements, Bethlehem separated the vessel amidship and added a 157-foot-long midbody, extending her length to 755 feet. The depth was changed with the addition of two new deck levels, increasing the keel-to-main deck depth from 54 to 70 feet. Accomplishing this also required the alteration of three decks—first, main, and upper.

These modifications provided more cargo holds, space for a third set of twin 36-ton capacity cranes, and a new 80-man deckhouse for "surge" crews during periodic loading and unloading operations. The normal crew complement will be about 65, comprised of civilian and Military Sealift Command personnel.

Reconstruction statistics include a 46,484-ton full-load displacement and a 32-foot 10 V2-inch full-load draft. The ship's original diesel engine propulsion plant will provide a speed of 17.2 knots operating at 80 percent of maximum rated horsepower; range is 10,800 nautical miles.

On-board capacities include 120,000 square feet for vehicles, provisions for 313 ammunition and refrigerated cargo containers, 1.3 million gallons of drummed and bulk petroleum products, 84,933 gallons of potable water, and 615,083 gallons of fuel oil. Other major additions include a new stern ramp, fuel tanks, repair shops, and a helicopter landing platform aft.

The Bonnyman is the second Maersk ship to be reconstructed at the Beaumont yard, and the last in the five-ship contract to be delivered.

The other three Maersk vessels were converted at Bethlehem's Sparrows Point shipyard near Baltimore.

In all, the five-ship reconstruction contract represented a value of more than $600 million to Bethlehem, allowing the continuation of a long tradition of shipbuilding at the company's domestic construction facilities during the current commercial marine construction slump.

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 6,  Nov 1985

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