The landmark Strategic Mobility Requirements Study by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1992 concluded that the United States had insufficient sealift capacity to transport military equipment to an overseas conflict. This shortfall was highlighted during “Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm” when the majority of cargo had to be moved by chartered, non-U.S.-flag ships. To address this capacity shortfall, Congress authorized the Strategic Sealift Program.
Through the Strategic Sealift Program, the U.S. Navy procured 20 large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off (RO/RO) ships, including 15 newbuilds and five conversions. From 1993-2002, NASSCO built eight of the new construction ships and three of the ship conversions as well as one Strategic Sealift conversion for the U.S. Marine Corps.
These ships were delivered to the Military Sealift Command and provide the capacity to preposition and transport U.S. Army tanks, trucks and other military equipment and supplies to areas of conflict around the world. Other uses of the ships include surge sealift support of remote military actions. Their multi-use capabilities, large cargo capacity and speed make these ships among the most flexible ever built.