Army Mariners hard at work
A lot of people forget that for centuries the Army has maintained both seagoing and coastal assets. Sure, there are bridging units with pontoon boats, Army Corps of Engineers dredges, and SF dive teams (trained in Key West) but I mean honest to goodness blue water Army ships.
In fact, there are more than 1,000 Soldiers in MOSs (88K Watercraft Operator, 88L Watercraft Engineer, 880A Marine Deck Officer, 881A Marine Engineering Officer) directly tied to watercraft operations and Big Green currently fields 49 oceangoing vessels (USAV’s) including:
35 1,100 ton, 174-foot Runnymede-class LCUs
6 1,000-ton, 128-foot MGen. Nathanael Greene-class tugs
8 4,200-ton, 272-foot General Frank S. Besson-class LSTs
From an interesting article put out by 7th Fleet PAO.
“We don’t call ourselves ‘sailors,’ because that title is already taken,” said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Carmen, with the 605th Transportation Detachment, 8th Theater Sustainment Command. “But we are Army mariners, and it is a full-time job, absolutely.”
On Friday, Aug. 12, Carmen and 30 other Soldiers — about eight warrant officers and 23 enlisted in all — boarded Army Vessel CW3 Harold C. Clinger, in Hawaii, and set off on an 18-day cruise that will take them to Nagoya, Japan, to drop off gear to be used in the Orient Shield exercise.
And they go relatively well-armed:
The 272-foot USAV Clinger is a “logistics support vessel,” or LSV. The Army has eight of these cargo ships in its inventory, and each can carry a load up to 2,000 short tons, whether it’s 37 Stryker vehicles, or 24 M1A2 Abrams tanks, or 50 20-foot cargo containers.
For security, the USAV Clinger is armed with four M2 .50-caliber machine guns, two M249 Squad Automatic Weapons, or “SAWs”, and two Mk 19 grenade launchers. The enlisted crew also carries M16 rifles, while the warrant officers carry 9mm pistols.
A 12-guage shotgun is also available to protect the ship, said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael Lloyd, who serves as master maritime of operations with 8th TSC.
“Just like any mariner out there in the world, like the U.S. Navy and Merchant Marine, we follow a set of drills from abandon ship, to man overboard, to fire drills, and in the case of our vessel, we also do battle drills,” Lloyd said.