In a ceremony on Friday, October 7th, 2016 in the Port of Baltimore, American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier (ARC) christened the M/V Patriot, welcoming one of the most versatile and militarily-useful ships to the U.S.-flag commercial fleet, along with close friends and allies from the Department of Defense, Capitol Hill, maritime labor, the Maritime Administration, the Federal Maritime Commission, and a myriad of customers and business partners.
ARC President & CEO Eric Ebeling welcomed guests to the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore, a fitting venue as the port is ARC’s largest port of call. Maryland Port Authority Executive Director Jim White was on hand to welcome Capt. Kiah Pinto and the rest of the ship’s officers and crew to Baltimore.
The keynote address was delivered by the Honorable Alan Estevez from the Department of Defense, with his wife acting as the vessel’s sponsor. Mr. Estevez serves as Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
“US-Flag carriers such as ARC are providing DoD with access to a global intermodal logistics network in support of European operations, Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and other contingencies, exercises, and sustainment moves”, remarked Mr. Estevez. Further, since 2009 alone, “privately-owned U.S.-flag commercial vessels and their civilian U.S. citizen crews have transported more than 90% of the sustainment cargo needed to support U.S. military operations and rebuilding programs in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Speeches were also heard from ARC’s labor partners, Executive Vice President Augie Tellez of the Seafarers International Union (SIU) and Vice President Christian Spain of the American Maritime Officers (AMO).
Mr. Tellez noted: “The ship is called the Patriot, but it may as well be the Commitment: the commitment that ARC has made and the commitment American mariners will sail into harm’s way to get the job done.”
The ship adds much-needed merchant mariner jobs for the U.S.-flag fleet. Mr Ebeling noted that “the American mariners that sail on board these ships are the most reliable and dedicated in the business and also serve as a critical manpower pool to crew government reserve ships in time of need.”
Maritime Administrator Paul “Chip” Jaenichen delivered a strong message, stating: “the Maritime Security Program (MSP) provides guaranteed access to the commercial sealift and intermodal capabilities necessary to meet U.S. national security requirements. It is a cost effective program that ensures our Nation can globally project and sustain our Armed Forces using U.S.-flagged vessels crewed by U.S. merchant mariners.”
Formerly the M/V Aida, Patriot was re-flagged to American registry on March 30 as the seventh Ro-Ro vessel in ARC’s fleet. The reflag was conducted by the Coast Guard in the port of New York. The vessel is enrolled in the Maritime Security Program (MSP), the bedrock Congressional maritime readiness program, and the Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA). Consistent with past practice to name ARC ships after American values, she was renamed M/V Patriot.
Mr. Ebeling referenced the decline of the U.S.-flag fleet over the past years from approximately 120 ships to 79, as cargo volumes have declined due to the changing overseas military footprint, lack of a fully functioning Ex-Im Bank, and other factors. Despite the challenging market conditions, ARC has remained steadfast in its commitment to U.S.-flag shipping, and remains dedicated to “continuing the process of investing and recapitalizing our fleet in the coming years.”
M/V Patriot is 199m long with a beam of 32.26m. She has a 14.15m wide and 7.04m high stern opening, with a stern ramp rated for cargo up to 240,000 MT. The vessel is among the most capable and militarily-useful vessels in the U.S.-flag commercial fleet, able to carry tracked vehicles, helicopters, trucks and other military and high and heavy project cargoes.
ARC is the largest U.S.-flag Ro-Ro carrier, and the third largest U.S.-flag carrier operating in international trade. Founded in 1990, the company provides American-owned, managed, and crewed Ro-Ro shipping services committed to the requirements of the Department of Defense, other U.S. government departments and agencies, and commercial customers. ARC headquarters are in New Jersey, and additional principal offices are in Germany and Washington, DC.
Source: ARC Shipping