June 26, 2006

Maritime admin. seeks ships for disaster relief

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - The U.S. Maritime Administration
(Marad) is seeking to designate one or more vessels as relief
ships for rescue operations during disasters, said Dee
Varshney, central region director of Marad, on Monday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the API Tanker Conference
2006, Varshney said that Marad and the U.S. Military Sealift
Command (MSC) should collaborate to make this idea materialize.

This was suggested in the aftermath of the hurricane season
in the U.S. Gulf Coast last year, which raised several
questions about contingency plans for disasters and logistics

"The military sealift command could add six or seven new
ships to its fleet, and Marad and Sealift Command could use
some of those ships as relief vessels when the need arises,"
Varshney said.

However, the idea has not taken off, partly due to funding
problems, Varshney said.

A relief ship could be a container ship, he said.

The MSC provides ocean transportation of equipment, fuel,
supplies and ammunition to sustain U.S. forces worldwide during
peacetime and in war for as long as operational requirements

During a war, more than 95 percent of all equipment and
supplies needed to sustain the U.S. military is carried by sea.

MSC provides the sea transportation component for the
United States Transportation


Marad's goals are to provide commercial mobility in U.S.
waters, national security and formalize environmental
considerations in its operations.