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    MSC Ships Conduct Successful At-Sea Transfer of Ex-Ford Tow

    MSC Ships Conduct Successful At-Sea Transfer of Ex-Ford Tow

    Photo By Sarah Burford | Military Sealift Command rescue and salvage ship USNS Grasp takes control of (T-ARS...... read more read more



    Story by Sarah Burford 

    Military Sealift Command Pacific

    Military Sealift Command’s fleet ocean tug USNS Sioux (T-ATF 171) and rescue salvage ship USNS Grasp (T-ARS 51) conducted a successful at-sea transfer of the decommissioned Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Ford (FFG 54) in the Pacific Area of Operation off the coast of Hawaii.

    The tow of Ex-Ford began in Bremerton, Wash. Prior to being released for tow, Ex-Ford was stripped of everything considered contaminants, that could compromise sea life or the ocean’s environment, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), transformers and capacitors, trash, floatable materials, mercury or fluorocarbon-containing materials and readily detachable solid PCB items were stripped from the ship leaving nothing more than a shell. Petroleum was also cleaned from tanks, piping and reservoirs. The Navy Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Inactive Ships Office conducted inspections throughout the process to ensure the all preparations were in line with guidelines set-up by the Environmental Protection Agency under a general permit the Navy holds pursuant to the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act.

    Once cleared by NAVSEA, Sioux began the first leg of Ex-Ford’s final journey to Guam.

    Due to environmental restrictions in Hawaii, a decision to handoff Ex-Ford to Grasp in open waters, five miles off the coast was made. While transferring a tow at sea is not normally how MSC conducts this operation, it is something familiar to the civilian mariner crew.

    “This isn’t something we do very often, but it is something we can do, if we have to,” said Michael Howell, MSCPAC Combat Logistics Force Tow and Salvage Ship scheduler. “In this case, we couldn’t bring Sioux and the tow into Hawaii because of environmental concerns, so we had to go with the decision to transfer at sea. It’s not normally how we would do this, but protecting the reefs and the marine wildlife in Hawaii is important to everyone, and we respect that. Transferring a tow from one ship to another at sea has its challenges, but both crews are well trained and have a lot of experience with handling tows, so we had a lot of confidence in our ability to be successful with this one.”
    The larger ship, Grasp, will take Ex-Ford to Guam for a sinking exercise later in the year.

    “Operations, such as this one between Sioux and Grasp, are examples of how flexible and adaptive MSC can be,” Explained Capt. Gabe Varela, commander MSCPAC. “Our ability to problem solve and our willingness to think out of the box and to try a more unconventional approach to completing our mission objectives really exemplify the professionalism and dedication of our CIVMARS and our staff.”



    Date Taken: 09.11.2019
    Date Posted: 09.11.2019 15:57
    Story ID: 339774
    Location: US

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