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Military Sealift Command

Transportation for the Navy and the Department of Defense

The Military Sealift Command is the sole transportation provider for the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense (DOD). It was created in July 1949 when the Military Sea Transportation Service was given exclusive responsibility for the ocean transportation needs of the DOD; it was given its current name in 1970. MSC is comprised of a fleet of ships, most owned by the Navy and some under long-term charter. Vessels owned by the Navy and those being chartered are differentiated by their hull numbers, as well as the colors they carry.

Military Sealift Command employs civilian U.S. government employees or contract crews to man the ships when they are sent on a particular mission. The MSC is made up of four main programs:

  • Sealift:
    The Sealift Program is tasked with the responsibility to serve as the sole provider of ocean transportation for the DOD. It provides cost effective sealift assets for the DOD in times of peace, contingency, and war. The benefit of having this one program directly connected to the needs of the DOD is that it is centrally managed. There are three subprograms within the Sealift Program including the following: Tanker Project, Dry Cargo Project, and Surge Project.

  • Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force:
    This portion of the MSC most directly supports the Navy, manning naval fleets with civilians to reduce costs. There are several types of ships involved with the Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force including Rescue / Salvage, Ammunition, Dry Cargo, Hospital, Fast Combat, Fleet Replenishment, and Combat Stores.

  • Special Mission:
    As the name suggests, this is the most specialized part of Military Sealift Command. The Special Missions Program maintains control of 24 vessels that supplement U.S. Military and government missions at sea. Providing platforms and services, the Special Missions Program is involved in unique operations such as oceanographic surveys, submarine surveillance, missile flight data tracking, acoustic research, and support for submarine vessels.

  • Prepositioning:
    The Prepositioning Program of Military Sealift Command provides support for military departments before a need arises. The vessels are deployed in key ocean areas, carrying military equipment supplies to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and the Defense Logistics Agency.

Military Sealift Command provides injury insurance and compensation for employees who are injured in an accident on the job. As civilian employees, seamen working for the MSC have the same rights as any other maritime employees. If you or a loved one was working as a civil service mariner (CIVMAR) with the Military Sealift Command when he or she was injured, contact Arnold & Itkin to learn how we can help.

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