SMC Joint Symposium Examines Lessons Of Desert Storm

A luncheon symposium called "The Marine Industry After Desert Storm—Lessons Learned," jointly sponsored by the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA)-USA and the Society of Marine Consultants Ltd., featuring speakers from the commercial and governmental marine sectors, was recently held at the Whitehall Club in downtown Manhattan.

The symposium was attended by a cross section of the marine industry and moderated by Lester Rosenblatt, chairman, M.

Rosenblatt & Son, Inc. ICHC A chairman Frank Nolan and SMC chairman Wesley D. Wheeler were also in attendance.

The first speaker, Wieger Koonstra, executive vice president, operations, Atlantic Container Line (ACL), stressed that U.S. sealift requirements should be coordinated with NATO, in order that roll-on/ roll-off/container operators such as ACL could supply tonnage when it is urgently needed, as they did in Operation Desert Storm and the Falklands conflict. Alternatively, a governmental program should be initiated to finance vessels built abroad and brought under the U.S.


According to Wallace T.

Sansone, Deputy Commander of the Military Sealift Command (MSC), who spoke after Mr.

Koonstra, 80 percent of the total cargo transported by sea during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm was carried on Americanflagships.

In all 96 ships were used, 78 of which were activated during the conflict. Mr. Sansone said that the 96 vessels carried an equivalent of as much as 1,500-2,000 ships did during World War II and the seven former SL-7 Class fast sealift deployment ships alone carried the equivalent of 116 WWII vessels.

When asked if the U.S. needs more sealift ships, Mr. Sansone responded, "[It] depends on the new world order." The third speaker, Thomas S.

Winslow, director, vessel engineering, American President Lines (APL), focused on the point that containerization and intermodalism as practiced by the military needs more development to match the commercial industry's integrated carriers such as APL. Mr. Winslow made several recommendations which would make future sealift operations run more smoothly: (1) Streamline the procurement and bidding process; (2) Address regulatory barriers in time of emergency; (3) Involve commercial carriers in contingency planning; (4) Military should utilize existing or modified commercial pipelines; (5) Increase containerization in all phases— Surge, Stabilization and Sustainment; (6) Since most conflicts involve remote areas without port facilities, examine the use of shallow draft feeders, deLong piers, crane ships, barges, etc.; (7) Further development and integrate Automatic Equipment Identification (AEI) for easy identification of containerized cargo; and (8) Improve information and technology transfer— containerize ammunition, vehicles, etc.

John J. Stocker, president of the Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA) and last and most animated speaker of the day, spoke out in favor of a national sealift ship construction program which would not only alleviate America's shortfall in sealift, but also provide a transitional program to the commercial market for U.S. builders.

Mr. Stocker said that to support Operation Desert Shield/Storm, 71 ships were broken out of the Ready Reserve Force (RRF) by 26 shipyards. Sixteen of the shipyards involved in the work are topside repair-only facilities, meaning that they are unable to drydock a ship.

"That fact alone provides a clear indication of how deeply into the remaining U.S. shipyard industrial base this modest mobilization went," said Mr. Stocker. "The breakout would have been even more difficult to support if it had not come in several stages extended over several months." Mr. Stocker also said that because of the poor condition of many of the ships, normal five-day breakouts were taking as long as 11 and 13 days.

"The Maritime Administration now recognizes that far too much scheduled maintenance for RRF ships had been deferred. This was principally due to inadequate funding." Mr. Stocker recommended a new ship manager concept which would allow a shipyard that is responsible for the upkeep of the ship to also be the operator when the vessel is mobilized, either through a joint venture with a present operator or through formulation of a new ship operating company.

Other stories from November 1991 issue


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