Definition

Military Sea Transportation Service

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One Hundred Years in the Making: The Birth of Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS)


By Salvatore R. Mercogliano


In 1946, the new chiefs of the Navy and Army, Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz and General of the Army Dwight Eisenhower, sat down to discuss a situation that had plagued their commands throughout the Second World War.


With the creation of the National Military Establishment, subsequently redesignated the Department of Defense, both these veterans sought to correct a shortfall that had existed since America's first overseas operation.


As early as 1847, the Quartermaster General of the Army, Brigadier General Thomas S. Jesup had to compete with the U. S. Navy for the chartering of American merchant ships. Following the successful outcome of the Mexican-American War, Jesup recommended that the Navy be given the responsibility for the water transportation of the military, in both peace and war-time. However, this divided relationship persisted through the Spanish-American and both World Wars.


In World War II, four different government agencies competed to utilize the commercial merchant marine -- the Naval Transportation Service, the Army Transport Service, the U. S. Maritime Commission's War Shipping Administration, and the Fleet Support Services. To oversee these organizations, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) established the Joint Military Transportation Command (JMTC), but this arrangement proved cumbersome. In May 1946, Nimitz and Eisenhower directed that the JMTC make a study of the situation and recommend a solution.


On December 15, 1948, the Secretary of Defense James Forrestal issued a statement, "all military sea transport including Army transports would be placed under Navy command." With the decision made, the details of the actual transfer and scope of the new command's responsibilities had to be ironed out. While the Army and Air Force agreed in the transfer of sealift functions to the Navy, they could not agree on how to distribute the costs.


The Army and Air Force felt that the Navy should be made to pay for the operations of the vessels, while the Navy felt that the services wanting to ship items should provide the necessary funds. This issue held up the matter till the new Secretary of Defense, Louis Johnson, issued a memorandum on July 12, 1949 that spelled out the financing, purpose, and responsibilities of the new Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS).


Secretary Johnson directed that the title of the Army's cargo and passenger ships be transferred to the Navy.

MSTS would accept the responsibility of being a carrier service and assume the responsibility for the cargo once it was loaded. Operation of the ports would remain with the respective services.

The final issue, funding, proved elusive till the service shifted to Naval Industrial Fund on July 1, 1951, whereby a pool of $100 million was provided to MSTS for operations. However, the respective services were required to backfill the fund for their shipping expenses.


The initial commander of MSTS, Rear Admiral William M. Callaghan (subsequently promoted to Vice Admiral), coordinated the transfer of the NTS with its commander, Rear Admiral A. J. Wellings (re-assigned as Vice Commander MSTS), and Major General F. A. Heileman, the Chief of the Army Transportation Corps.


Previous experience as the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations (Transportation), and Chief of the Naval Transportation Service, Callaghan proved an excellent choice. Graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy in 1918, he served as the commander of the battleship USS Missouri in the Pacific and on the staff of Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet during the Second World War.


Initially located in the Main Navy Building, situated on the Mall in Washington D.C., the command opened for business on October 1, 1949 when NTS was dissolved and its assets and personnel transferred to MSTS.

The fleet initially consisted of 6 troop transports, 3 attack transports, 12 attack cargo ships, and 16 tankers. These ships, unlike today, were commissioned vessels in the U.S. Navy and manned by military crews.


The same day, 57 tankers of the Petroleum and Tanker Branch of the Chief of Naval Operations office (OP-422), joined the MSTS fleet. Unlike the ships of NTS, these were government-owned tankers, but contract operated by four commercial firms (Pacific Tankers, Inc.; American Pacific Steamship Co.; Tankers Company, Inc.; and Marine Transport Lines, Inc.) and with licensed civilian merchant mariners aboard.


Additionally four field offices were established in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and New Orleans, each commanded by a Navy captain and designated as Deputy Commanders of MSTS.


While Navy assets were quickly assimilated into MSTS, the transfer of Army assets took a while longer.


On March 1, 1950, 72 ships of the ATS based in the continental United States were redesignated from United States Army Transports to United States Naval Ships. Unlike the ships of the NTS, they possessed civilian merchant crews, directly employed by the government and known as civilian mariners.



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Official ceremony transferring ATS ships to MSTS


Besides these ships, 19 commercial cargo ships under contract shifted to MSTS operational control.

Korea

Four months later, on July 1, the ATS offices and assets based at Bremerhaven, Germany; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Balboa, Panama; Honolulu, Territory of Hawaii; and Tokyo, Japan joined the growing fleet. The last portion of the Army's fleet, ten ships stationed in Alaska joined on November 1, 1950, completing the initial Military Sea Transportation Service fleet.

July 8, 1950

On [Saturday] 8 July activation of facilities at Fallbrook and Seal Beach, California, was begun, and Bangor Annex, at Keyport in Puget Sound, was made available for the outloading of Army and Air Force ammunition.


For all services requirements skyrocketed. The planned overseas movement of Army ammunition alone was to rise from zero to 77,000 tons for the month of August, a growth paralleled by increased calls for general stores, refrigerated provisions, and for personnel. The Military Sea transportation Service had prepared for a predicted movement of 66,000 tons of cargo to the Far East in July; in fact it ended up moving 312,000 tons and 30,000 passengers.

July 22, 1950

More tonnage was urgently required and was being hastily assembled by Captain William R. Thayer, Deputy Commander MSTS Pacific; by the third week in July the transports under his control had increased from 20 to 31, and 12 commercial vessels had been taken on under time charter

Military Sea Transportation Service in Korean War


List of Ships transferred to Military Sea Transport Service from Naval Transportation Service and Army Transportation Service 1949-1950

Ships transferred to Military Sea Transport Service from Naval Transportation Service, October 1, 1949; 94 ships

Ships transferred to Military Sea Transport Service from Army Transportation Service, March 1, 1950; 72 ships

Ships transferred to Military Sea Transport Service from Army Transportation Service, July 1, 1950; 33 ships

Ships transferred to Military Sea Transport Service from Army Transportation Service, November 1, 1950; 10 ships
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Ships transferred to Military Sea Transport Service from Naval Transportation Service,


October 1, 1949

Transports (9)

USS President Jackson T-APA-18
USS President Adams T-APA-19
USS Thomas Jefferson T-APA-30
USS Gen. A. E. Anderson T-AP-111
USS Gen. Wm. A. Mann T-AP-112
USS Gen. H. W. Butner T-AP-113
USS Gen Wm. Mitchell T-AP-114
USS Gen. G. M. Randall T-AP-115
USS Gen J. Breckinridge T-AP-176

Cargo Ships (12)

USS Titania T-AKA-13
USS Oberon T-AKA-14
USS Andromeda T-AKA-15
USS Thuban T-AKA-19
USS Virgo T-AKA-20
USS Achernar T-AKA-53
USS Alshain T-AKA-55
USS Chara T-AKA-58
USS Diphda T-AKA-59
USS Leo T-AKA-60
USS Muliphen T-AKA-61
USS Oglethorpe T-AKA-100

Tankers (73)

USS Kennebec T-AO-36
USS Merrimack T-AO-37
USS Kankakee T-AO-39
USS Mattaponi T-AO-41
USS Monongahela T-AO-42
USS Tappahannock T-AO-43
USS Neches T-AO-47
USNS Suamico T-AO-49
USNS Tallulah T-AO-50
USS Chikaskia T-AO-54
USS Aucilla T-AO-56
USS Marias T-AO-57
USS Manatee T-AO-58
USS Nantahala T-AO-60
USS Severn T-AO-61
USS Taluga T-AO-62
USS Chipola T-AO-63
USS Tolovana T-AO-64
USNS Pecos T-AO-65
USNS Cache T-AO-67
USNS Millicoma T-AO-73
USNS Saugatuck T-AO-75
USNS Schuylkill T-AO-76
USNS Cossatot T-AO-77
USNS Chepachet T-AO-78
USNS Cowanesque T-AO-79
USNS Escambia T-AO-80
USNS Kennebago T-AO-81
USNS Cahaba T-AO-82
USNS Mascoma T-AO-83
USNS Oklawaha T-AO-84
USNS Pamanset T-AO-85
USNS Sebec T-AO-87
USNS Tomahawk T-AO-88
USNS Soubarissen T-AO-93
USNS Anacostia T-AO-94
USNS Caney T-AO-95
USNS Tamalpais T-AO-96
USNS Cohocton T-AO-101
USNS Mission Buenaventura T-AO-111
USNS Mission Capisrano T-AO-112
USNS Mission Carmel T-AO-113
USNS Mission De Pala T-AO-114
USNS Mission Dolores T-AO-115
USNS Mission Loreto T-AO 116
USNS Mission Los Angeles T-AO 117
USNS Mission Purisima T-AO 118
USNS Mission San Antonio T-AO 119
USNS Mission San Carlos T-AO 120
USNS Mission San Diego T-AO 121
USNS Mission San Fernando T-AO 122
USNS Mission San Francisco T-AO 123
USNS Mission San Gabriel T-AO 124
USNS Mission San Jose T-AO 125
USNS Mission San Juan T-AO 126
USNS M. San Luis Obispo T-AO 127
USNS Mission San Luis Rey T-AO 128
USNS Mission San Miguel T-AO 129
USNS Mission San Rafael T-AO 130
USNS Mission Santa Barbara T-AO 131
USNS Mission Santa Clara T-AO 132
USNS Mission Santa Cruz T-AO 133
USNS Mission Santa Ynez T-AO 134
USNS Mission Solano T-AO 135
USNS Mission Soledad T-AO 136
USNS Mission Santa Ana T-AO 137
USNS Cedar Creek T-AO 138
USNS Muir Woods T-AO 139
USNS Pioneer Valley T-AO 140
USNS Sappa Creek T-AO 141
USNS Shawnee Trail T-AO 142
USNS Peconic T-AOG 68
USNS Tonti T-AOG 76

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Ships transferred to Military Sea Transport Service from Army Transportation Service,


March 1, 1950

72 ships

Refrigerated Cargo Ships (4)

USNS Bald Eagle T-AF 50
USNS Blue Jacket T-AF 51
USNS Golden Eagle T-AF 52
USNS Grommet Reefer T-AF 53

Cargo Ships (16)

USNS Greenville Victory T-AK 237
USNS Haiti Victory T-AK 238
USNS Kingsport Victory T-AK 239
USNS Pvt. John R. Towle T-AK 240
USNS Pvt. Francis A. McGraw T-AK 241
USNS Sgt. Andrew Miller T-AK 242
USNS Sgt. Archer T. Gammon T-AK 243
USNS Morris E. Crain T-AK 244
USNS Capt. Arlo L. Olson T-AK 245
USNS Col. William J. O'Brien T-AK 246
USNS Pvt. John F. Thorson T-AK 247
USNS Sgt. George Peterson T-AK 248
USNS Short Splice T-AK 249
USNS T-AKL 15 T-AKL 15
USNS T-AKL 16 T-AKL 16
USNS T-AKL 17 T-AKL 17

Aircraft Cargo Ships (5)

USNS Lt. James E. Robinson T-AKV 3
USNS Pvt. Joseph F. Merrell T-AKV 4
USNS Sgt. Jack J. Pendleton T-AKV 5
USNS Albert M. Boe T-AKV 6
USNS Cardinal O'Connell T-AKV 7

Transports (42)

USNS Gen. Daniel I. Sultan T-AP 120
USNS Gen. Hugh J. Gaffey T-AP 121
USNS Gen Alexander M. Patch T-AP 122
USNS Gen. Simon B. Buckner T-AP 123
USNS Gen. Edwin D. Patrick T-AP 124
USNS Gen. Nelson M. Walker T-AP 125
USNS Gen. Maurice Rose T-AP 126
USNS Gen. William O. Darby T-AP 127
USNS Gen. R. L. Howze T-AP 134
USNS Gen. W. M. Black T-AP 135
USNS Gen. S. D. Sturgis T-AP 137
USNS Gen. C. G. Morton T-AP 138
USNS Gen. R. E. Callan T-AP 139
USNS Gen. M. B. Stewart T-AP 140
USNS Gen. A. W. Greely T-AP 141
USNS Gen. C. H. Muir T-AP 142
USNS Gen. H. B. Freeman T-AP 143
USNS Gen H. F. Hodges T-AP 144
USNS Gen. Harry Taylor T-AP 145
USNS Gen W. F. Hase T-AP 146
USNS Gen. E. T. Collins T-AP 147
USNS Gen. M. L. Hersey T-AP 148
USNS Gen. J. H. McRae T-AP 149
USNS Gen. Mason M. Patrick T-AP 150
USNS Gen. W. C. Langfitt T-AP 151
USNS Gen. R. M. Blatchford T-AP 153
USNS Gen. A. W. Brewster T-AP 155
USNS Gen. D. E. Aultman T-AP 156
USNS Gen. C. C. Ballou T-AP 157
USNS Gen. W. G. Haan T-AP 158
USNS Gen. Stuart Heintzelman T-AP 159
USNS Frederick Funston T-AP 178
USNS James O'Hara T-AP 179
USNS David C. Shanks T-AP 180
USNS Fred C. Ainsworth T-AP 181
USNS George W. Goethals T-AP 182
USNS Henry Gibbins T-AP 183
USNS Pvt. Elden H. Johnson T-AP 184
USNS Pvt. William H. Thomas T-AP 185
USNS Sgt. Charles E. Mower T-AP 186
USNS Pvt Joe P. Martinez T-AP 187
USNS Sgt. Jonah E. Kelley T-APC 116

Tug (1)

USNS T-ATA 239 T-ATA 239

Landing Ship Tank (2)

USNS T-LST 694 T-LST 694
USNS T-LST 1010 T-LST1010

Fuel Oil Barges (2)

USNS T-YO 242 T-YO 242
USNS T-YO 243 T-YO 243



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Ships transferred to Military Sea Transport Service from Army Transportation Service,


July 1, 1950

33 ships

Refrigerated Cargo Ship (1)

USNS Laurentia T-AF 44

Cargo Ships (16)

USNS Pvt. Frank J. Petrarca T-AK 250
USNS T-AKL 18 T-AKL 18
USNS T-AKL 19 T-AKL 19
USNS T-AKL 20 T-AKL 20
USNS T-AKL 21 T-AKL 21
USNS T-AKL 22 T-AKL 22
USNS T-AKL 23 T-AKL 23
USNS T-AKL 24 T-AKL 24
USNS T-AKL 25 T-AKL 25
USNS T-AKL 26 T-AKL 26
USNS T-AKL 27 T-AKL 27
USNS T-AKL 28 T-AKL 28
USNS T-AKL 29 T-AKL 29
USNS T-AKL 30 T-AKL 30
USNS T-AKL 31 T-AKL 31
USNS T-AKL 32 T-AKL 32

Tankers (5)

USNS Kern T-AOG 2
USNS Wabash T-AOG 4
USNS Susquehanna T-AOG 5
USNS Ontonagon T-AOG 36
USNS Rincon T-AOG 77

Transports (2)

USNS Sgt. George D. Keathley T-APC 117
USNS Sgt. Joseph E. Mueller T-APC 118

Tugs (2)

USNS T-ATA 240 T-ATA 240
USNS T-YTB 746 T-YTB 746

Landing Ship Tank (6)

USS T-LST 742 T-LST 742
USS T-LST 802 T-LST 802
USS T-LST 883 T-LST 883
USS T-LST 898 T-LST 898
USS T-LST 975 T-LST 975
USS T-LST 1048 T-LST1048

Fuel Oil Barge (1)

T-YO 244 T-YO 244

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Ships transferred to Military Sea Transport Service from Army Transportation Service,


November 1, 1950

10 ships

Cargo Ships (4)

USNS T-AKL 33 T-AKL 33
USNS T-AKL 34 T-AKL 34
USNS T-AKL 35 T-AKL 35
USNS T-AKL 36 T-AKL 36

Tugs (4)

USNS Col. T. E. Clifford Jr. T-ATA 241
USNS Sgt. Clarence W. Foss T-ATA 242
USNS Pvt. Gabriel Chavez T-ATA 243
USNS Sgt. Fred N. Coleman T-ATA 244

Landing Ship Utility (2)

USNS T-LSU 1362 T-LSU1362
USNS T-LSU 1460 T-LSU1460


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www.USMM.org is grateful to Professor Salvatore R. cogliano fo for providing this list of ships. Mercogliano is writing his doctoral dissertation about the history of the Merchant Marine, Military Sea Transportation Service and Military Sealift Command.

The Birth of Military Sea Transportation Service by Salvatore R. Mercogliano

List of Ships transferred to Military Sea Transport Service from Naval Transportation Service and Army Transportation Service 1949-1950



Illustration from:
Military Sea Transportation Service, NAVPERS 10829-B, bureau of Naval Personnel, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1962

www.USMM.org is grateful to Professor Salvatore R. Mercogliano for providing this article. Mercogliano, is writing his doctoral dissertation about the history of the Merchant Marine, Military Sea Transportation Service and Military Sealift Command. Professor Mercogliano