Military Sealift Command’s USNS Matthew Perry Becomes First Dry Cargo/Ammunition Ship to CONSOL with State Tanker Ship at Sea

In the waters off Hawaii, Military Sealift Command’s dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE 9) made history with Motor Tanker Ship Empire State (T-AOT 5193) as they conducted the first underway replenishment between a State Class tanker ship and a T-AKE.

With their eyes on the ever-changing sea states common this time of year in the Pacific, Empire State successfully transferred ten thousand barrels of diesel ship fuel to Perry, without incident, opening to the door to future at-sea-CONSOLs with other T-AKEs.

Since 2015, MSC has been conducting tanker to oiler CONSOLS-at-sea as a way to utilize a flexible platform that allows MSC to operate world-wide in a variety of missions. The CONSOL with Empire State and Perry demonstrates the renewed capability of refueling MSC’s fleet of replenishment ships via tanker ships at sea instead of at commercial fuel piers.  The ability of a T-AKE to receive bulk cargo fuel at sea, from a tanker ship, gives MSC flexibility in obtaining products needed by Navy customers quickly and efficiently.

In the 1980s and 1990’s, MSC chartered Champion Class tankers (T5 tankers) UNREPing Navy oilers was common place, especially in the Navy’s 5th Fleet area of operations.  With the switch to privately owned/Navy chartered tankers, Navy oilers refueling at Navy owned fuel piers became the favored process.  Civilian tanker ships, such as Empire State, still maintained the ability to fuel at sea; the demand for fuel consolidation (CONSOL) at sea declined.  In recent years, the technology has been reintroduced and the oilers and now the T-AKEs have become certified for at-sea fuel transfers.

“Since I am a new face at MSC, It’s very exciting to have this historical event happen on my watch,” said Capt. Brett Hershman, commander, Military Sealift Command Pacific. “Having a capability like this available to another class of ships just shows, once again, that MSC is leading the pack in our ability to support the warfighting capability of the Navy quickly, decisively and in the most professional manner possible.”

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