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28 Navy | Summer 2018 M aintaining ships is hard. Maintaining older ships is harder still. For the U.S. Navy's Military Seali Command and the U.S. Maritime Administration, maintaining large varied fleets of older ships, oen with obsolete systems and outdated propulsion systems, spread around the country and the world, is, well, challenging. According to Neil Lichtenstein, deputy director of Military Seali Command's (MSC's) engineering directorate, the command has between 120 and 130 ships within its fleet at any given time, ranging from 2,300-ton, 226-foot ocean-going tugs to 54,500-ton, 908-foot hospital ships, and 950-foot, 62,444-ton LSMRs. MSC operates about 32 classes of ships. e biggest in number are the 15 Joshua Humphries- class of fleet oilers and the 14 Lewis & Clark-class of replenishment ships. And MSC has some truly unique vessels, like the 50,000-ton SBX self-propelled missile-tracking platform. "We have more than 30 classes of ships, with different types of propulsion systems from slow- and medium-speed diesels, diesel electric, DC and AC synchronous motors, gas turbine, steam and water- jets," Lichtenstein said. "We have a number of steam- powered ships that are still operational, most of which were transferred to MSC from the Navy." Some Navy ships, previously commissioned in active service, such as tenders, command ships and fast replenishment ships, have been transferred to MSC to operate because it requires about one-third as many civilian mariners as it would Navy crew- members, which reduces the total ownership costs significantly. "e Navy mans a ship to fight," said STAYING AFLOAT MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST SEAMAN HARLE Y K. SARMIENTO Steven Moore, a merchant mariner aboard Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy, signals the wench operator during a replenishment-at-sea May 12 with Henry J. Kaiser-class replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204). Mercy is deployed in support of Pacific Partnership 2018. Maintaining America's sealift fleet challenges MSC and MARAD By Edward Lundquist

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