USNS Flint transfers cargo to USNS Alan Shepard

After more than four decades of active Navy service, USNS Flint (T-AE 32) completed operational duties in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility June 30. Flint moved most of its cargo to USNS Alan Shepard (T-AKE 3) in cross-deck transfers that took more than 4,000 lifts and just under eight days to complete, with 36 uniformed Cargo Afloat Rig Team members supplementing both civil service mariner crews. Shepard – one of the Navy’s newest and most capable Combat Logistics Force ships – now fills Flint’s role in the region.

Flint is the last Kilauea Class ammunition ship operated by our Navy. Military Sealift Command refitted the ship for operation by a civil service mariner crew when Flint transferred in August 1995. Since then, Flint has ably performed its mission of keeping Navy combatant ships at sea supplied and operating forward. The following blog shares the thoughts of Capt. Mike Leahy, Flint’s civil service master, and Capt. Mike Del Acqua, Shepard’s civil service master, on the cargo transfer:

USNS Flint (T-AE 32)

USNS Flint (T-AE 32)

Capt. Mike Leahy, USNS Flint: Both crews worked extremely hard in the Persian Gulf heat at the height of summer, including 12- to 15-hour days during the evolution. On deck, temperatures climbed into the 120 degree temperature range by 10 a.m. This allowed for little relief during meals or water breaks.

Twenty-six CART members subsidized Flint’s crew, and 10 members augmented Alan Shepard. They greatly assisted in nearly all jobs prior, during and after completion of the cross-deck. They assisted with breakouts, pre-slinging loads and cleaning magazines and holds. Some of the jobs they performed during the cross-deck included roles as slingers, fork trucks drivers and winch watches. Some even received on-site training as winch drivers, safety observers and being the boatswain mate on station.

USNS Flint spent nearly eight days transferring cargo to USNS Alan Shepard.

USNS Flint spent nearly eight days transferring cargo to USNS Alan Shepard.

It was an honor to be a part of the final major ordnance event on USNS Flint. Flint is the last active T-AE 26 class vessel. With her operational duties coming to an end, this ends an era of the ammo ships. Many personnel in MSC have not only Flint, but others like the Kilauea, Shasta and Kiska to look back on with fondness. It will be a sad day in MSC when Flint rings up ‘Finished With Engines’ that final time.

Capt. Mike Del Acqua, USNS Alan Shepard: Both crews did an outstanding job completing a safe and efficient cross-deck in extremely high temperatures. Events were planned and coordinated to utilize each ship’s strengths and expedite transfers while alongside.

USNS Flint transfers ammunition to USNS Alan Shepard, 2013-06-25 Photo by Thomas Epps (6)

Alan Shepard’s underway replenishment teams integrated with CART personnel on deck as well as in the cargo holds. We conducted hands-on ordnance training for many first-time personnel. The CART team was very eager to learn and extremely willing to participate.

It’s always sad to see the end of an era, yet USNS Flint passed the ball off to us proudly and professionally without a hitch.

Capt. Leahy and the crew of USNS Flint, thank you for your support and can-do attitude in completing a safe cross-deck evolution.

USNS Alan Shepard is standing by to support upcoming events and follow-on assignments.

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