War Showed Absolute Surge Requirement For More RO/ROs

The Pentagon's chief shipping officer, Adm. Francis Donovan, Commander of the Navy's Military Sealift Command, said in his first postwar analysis of the Persian Gulf military crisis that the U.S. merchant marine is deficient by some 20 to 25 roll-on/roll-off (RO/RO) cargo vessels.

He estimated that such additional ships would be necessary if the Pentagon were to forego reliance on foreign cargo vessels in emergencies of the same scope as Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

Roll-on/roll-ofT ships which are equipped with heavy ramps that allow tanks and other equipment to be rolled on board without benefit of cargo handling equipment or highly skilled labor have been the key to the "tremendous success" of gulf transport operations, Admiral Donovan said. He added that for the future, it would be "far better to draw on an American merchant fleet" instead of relying on foreign ship charters for a significant portion of the supply effort.

Comments by the admiral echoed Congressional testimony recently in which he said, "Desert Storm has pinpointed beyond a doubt the absolute surge requirement for more RO/ROs."

Other stories from April 1991 issue


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