Dec. 14, 2007 - In the largest single shipment to date, more than 200 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles were loaded onto USNS Pililaau, a large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ship operated by Military Sealift Command yesterday in Charleston, S.C. These MRAPs, designed to protect occupants against armor-piercing roadside bombs, are destined for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Our ultimate mission is always to support the warfighter, and we take that very seriously," said Navy Capt. George Galyo, commander of MSC's Sealift Logistics Command Atlantic and operational commander for the load. "We are going to ensure that this vital equipment is under way on time in the most efficient manner possible."
The 950-foot Pililaau is ideally suited to carry the large shipment of heavily armored vehicles. The ship's 380,000 square feet of cargo capacity, the size of nearly eight football fields, is accessible by ramps between each deck to allow the MRAPs to be driven aboard.
"Pililaau was designed for just such a task," said Tom D'Agostino, director of ship operations at the Sealift Logistics Command Atlantic office in Charleston. "In one load, Pililaau can carry what could take a month to deliver by air. Pililaau helps us put these critically needed vehicles in the warfighters' hands at the right place at the right time for the right price."
"MRAPs have proven their effectiveness against explosive devices and are saving troops' lives," Pililaau's civilian master Capt. Richard Malloy said. "We are honored to be part of this mission."
Military Sealift Command operates more than 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that deliver combat equipment to troops, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world, re-supply Navy ships at sea, and perform a variety of other missions for the Defense Department.
(From a Military Sealift Command news release.)