Alternative Cold War History 1994

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Support Ships

Amphibious Support Ships

Landing an army from the sea to operate inland is the most complex military operation there is. The USN during World War Two became experts at this type of power projection and as such developed, and continued to develop highly specialized naval vessels to enable amphibious assaults and maintain forces on a foreign and hostile shore with a sustainment system stretching back to US ports. What follows is a partial list of the types of ships involved. Not all of these ships are represented in Northern Fury scenarios but this will serve as background to describe many of the ‘non-combat’ elements that are required to conduct a landing. For more detailed study this is a link to the 1996 Sealift doctrine – note that this is not the latest publication but the one most applicable to Northern Fury.

LKA: Amphibious Cargo Ships. The Charleston class are the latest in a long line of ships bearing the World War Two designation AKA (Attack Cargo Ship). While there were over 120 AKAs in the 40’s, the five Charleston class, commissioned between ‘68 and ’70 have been put in reserve several times but remain active as a testament to their versatility and capability to help Marines stay ashore. Equipped with a flight deck, cargo elevators, hoists and cranes, they can carry 8x LCM, 4x LCVP and over 5000 Tons of cargo of a size up to light vehicles. These ships will generally deploy with the lead elements of an Amphibious Force but remain in safe waters, once their LCMs are deployed they remain in the landing area as the LKA returns to port for more supplies.

LKA 117 USS El Paso

Pennant Name Fleet Home Port Task
LKA-113 USS Charleston Atlantic Norfolk 6th Mar Regt
LKA-114 USS Durham Pacific Persian Gulf Persian Gulf
LKA-115 USS Mobile Atlantic Norfolk 8th Mar Regt
LKA-116 USS St. Louis Atlantic Norfolk Philippines
LKA-117 USS El Paso Pacific San Diego 2 MEF

ACS: Auxiliary Crane Ship. The primary purpose of these ships is to provide heavy lift cranes in the landing area, they are much more effective once a port is available but can operate their equipment at sea. These large ships have the additional capability to transport 711 standard sized containers of stores and supplies to the landing area.

T-ACS 1 USNS Keystone State unloading a freighter

Class Pennant Name Fleet Home Port Task
Keystone State T-ACS 1 Keystone State RRF Alameda CA 1 MEF
T-ACS 2 Gem State RRF Alameda CA 1 MEF
T-ACS 3 Grand Canyon State RRF Alameda CA 1 MEF
Gopher State T-ACS 4 Gopher State Army MPS Guam I Corps
T-ACS 5 Flickertail State MPS Sqn 3 Cheatham Anx 3 MEF
T-ACS 6 Cornhusker State MPS Sqn 3 Cheatham Anx 3 MEF
T-ACS 7 Diamond State MPS Sqn 1 Houston 2 MEF
T-ACS 8 Equality State MPS Sqn 1 Houston 2 MEF
T-ACS 9 Green Mountain State MPS Sqn 2 Vancouver Diego G
T-ACS 10 Beaver State RRF Portland I Corps

AVB: Auxiliary Aviation Repair. The primary purpose of these ships is to deliver fixed and rotary wing repair and maintenance equipment, supplies, and workshops for the Marine Air Wing to a secure port facility. The maintenance facility can either operate from on board the ship, at a nearby base or a combination of both configurations. These two ships are unique to the USMC.

Class Pennant Name Fleet Home Port Task
Write T-AVB 3 Wright Atlantic Baltimore 2 MEF
T-AVB 4 Curtiss Pacific Oakland 3 MEF

T-AVB-3 USNS Wright

AH: Hospital Ship. These two hospital ships are designed to provide rapid and effective medial treatment facilities close an amphibious operation. These ships are not specifically designed to support the Marines but that is an obvious task for them. Each ship has 12 operating theaters and a 1000 bed holding facility with a wide range of medical capabilities.

Class Pennant Name Fleet Home Port Task
Mercy T-AH-19 Mercy Pacific Oakland
T-AH-20 Comfort Atlantic Baltimore

T-AH-19 USNS Mercy

AOT: Tankers. These tankers have limited ‘At Sea’ refueling capability, and have the ability to conduct ‘Logistics Over Shore’ – delivering fuel by pipeline to holding facilities ashore over a beach, this system is called OPDS (Offshore Petroleum Discharge System). In peacetime these ships keep far flung bases such as those in Antarctica and Tule Greenland replenished. In wartime they would first keep amphibious forces fueled and then pump various petroleum types (Diesel, Aviation fuel, Gasoline) ashore before returning to port for replenishment. These ships are not tied to home ports or generally assigned to fleets.

Class Pennant Name Task
Sealift T-AOT-168 Sealift Pacific
T-AOT-169 Sealift Arabian Sea 8th Mar Regt
T-AOT-170 Sealift China Sea
T-AOT-171 Sealift Indian Ocean
T-AOT-172 Sealift Atlantic 6th Mar Regt
T-AOT-173 Sealift Mediterranean
T-AOT-174 Sealift Caribbean
T-AOT-175 Sealift Arctic
T-AOT-176 Sealift Antarctic
T-AOT-181 Potomac Diego Garcia
Champion T-AOT-1121 MV Gus W. Darnell 2 MEF
T-AOT-1122 USNS Paul Buck
T-AOT-1123 USNS Samuel L. Cobb
T-AOT-1124 Richard G. Matthiesen
T-AOT-1125 Lawrence H. Gianella
American Osprey T-AOT-5074 American Osprey
Tonti T-AOG 82 Chattahoochee Gasoline only

T-AOT 1122 USNS Paul Buck delivering fuel in Antarctica

AK: Cargo. There are a wide range of cargo ships employed by the USN, several with noteworthy delivery systems. For simplicity they will be listed in one section with notes and several phots to help explain the more interesting ships. To compensate for long distances and shortage of military infrastructure or facilities in certain areas many of these ships are positioned in Maritime Prepositioning Squadrons (MPS). MPS 1 is responsible for the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, MPS 2 is at Diego Garcia and MPS 3 is located in Guam and Saipan. Those noted as RRF are in the Ready Reserve Force. The RRF ships must be ready to sail and receive cargo within 5-10 days, those at 5 days’ readiness maintain a skeleton crew.

MCDS: Mechanized Cargo Delivery System allows a dry cargo merchant ship to provide limited Underway Replenishment of naval vessels.

MCDS: Mechanized Cargo Delivery System

LASH: Lighter Aboard Ship. These ships hold a large number of standard sized barges or ‘Lighters’ which can quickly debark and be dispatched to a holding area for later unloading or moved with a tug to a different area (smaller port or upriver) allowing the ship to depart the landing area quickly or to load empty barges before departing.

T-AK 1005 USNS Austral Rainbow with 75 LASH barges and two pusher boats


Heavy Cargo: Although most heavy lift ships are contracted for specific jobs, AK-9204 Strong Virginian is part of MPS 2. Normally transporting a 500 bed containerized hospital, this photo shows, it is quite versatile.

AK-9204 Strong Virginian

RO-RO: Roll On – Roll Off ships for rapid loading and unloading of vehicles such as the six ‘Cape’ Class ships shown here as part of the RRF in Charleston South Carolina:

Container ships of various types some are also RO-RO such as T-AK 9301 Buffalo Soldier.

T-AK 9301 Buffalo Soldier

Fast RO-RO: These eight ships of the Algol class will cruise at 27 knots, a full 10 knots faster than other RO-RO ships and have a maximum speed of 33 knots. Their speed and capacity make them invaluable for the rapid movement of equipment to Europe. During the Gulf War each of these ships delivered the equivalent cargo of 116 World War Two Liberty ships, in an equivalent time.

T-AKR 287 Algol

Flo-Flo: Float On – Float Off. T-AK 2062 American Cormorant is used in MPS 2 at Diego Garcia to deliver small boats and LCUs as well as a floating crane to a landing area.

T-AK 2062 American Cormorant unloading.

Cargo Ship List:

Cargo Cross T-AK-285 Southern Cross Atlantic James River RRF
  Vega T-AK-286 Vega Atlantic James River RRF
  Cleveland AK-851 Cleveland Pacific Alameda CA RRF, MCDS
Ammo Austral Rainbow AK 1005 Austral Rainbow USAF MPS Diego Garcia

75 LASH,

2 Pusher Bts

Cargo Cape N AK-1014 Cape Nome Atlantic James River RRF
  Pioneer AK-2016 Pioneer Commander Atlantic Beaumont Tx RRF
    AK-2018 Pioneer Contractor Atlantic Beaumont Tx RRF
    AK-2019 Pioneer Crusader Atlantic Beaumont Tx RRF
    AK-2033 Buyer Atlantic Beaumont Tx RRF, MCDS
  Gulf AK-2035 Gulf Shipper Atlantic Beaumont Tx RRF, MCDS
    AK-2036 Gulf Trader Atlantic Beaumont Tx RRF, MCDS
  Green Valley AK-2050 Green Wave Atlantic East Coast Not LASH
LASH Green Valley T-AK 2049 Green Valley Army MPS Diego Garcia 88 Barges 
    T-AK 2064 Green Harbour Army MPS Diego Garcia 88 Barges
    T-AK 9204 Jeb Stuart Army MPS Diego Garcia 88 Barges
FloFlo American Cormorant T-AK 2062 American Cormorant Army MPS Diego Garcia  
USMC PP Cpl. Louis J. Haube, Jr. T-AK 3000 CPL L. Hauge, Jr MPS Sqn 2 Diego Garcia  
    T-AK 3001 PFC William B. Baugh MPS Sqn 2 Diego Garcia  
    T-AK 3002 PFC J. Anderson, Jr MPS Sqn 2 Diego Garcia  
    T-AK 3003 1ST LT A. Bonnyman MPS Sqn 2 Diego Garcia  
    T-AK 3004 PVT Franklin J. Phillips MPS Sqn 2 Diego Garcia  
  Sgt. Matej Kocak T-AK 3005 SGT Matej Kocak MPS Sqn 1 Europe  
    T-AK 3006 PFC E. A. Obregon MPS Sqn 1 Europe  
    T-AK 3007 MAJ S. W. Pless MPS Sqn 1 Europe  
  2nd Lt. John P. Bobo T-AK 3008 2ND LT John P. Bobo MPS Sqn 1 Europe  
    T-AK 3009 PFC D.T. Williams MPS Sqn 3 Guam  
    T-AK 3010 1ST LT B. Lopez MPS Sqn 3 Guam  
    T-AK 3011 1ST LT Jack Lummus MPS Sqn 3 Guam  
    T-AK 3012 SGT W. R. Button MPS Sqn 3 Guam  In PG
Bulk Cape A T-AK-5005 Adventurer Atlantic James River RRF
    T-AK-5006 Aide Pacific Alameda CA RRF
    T-AK-5007 Ambassador Atlantic James River RRF
    T-AK-5009 Cape Ann Atlantic James River RRF
    T-AK 5010 Cape Alexander Atlantic James River RRF
    T-AK 5011 Cape Archway Atlantic James River RRF
    T-AK 5012 Cape Alava Atlantic James River RRF
    T-AK 5013 Cape Avinof Atlantic James River RRF
    AK-5015 Agent Pacific Alameda CA RRF
MCDS Cape J T-AK 5022 Cape John   Beaumont Tx RRF
    T-AK 5029 Cape Jacob MPS Sqn 3 Guam  
    T-AK 5075 Cape Johnson   James River RRF, MCDS
    T-AK 5077 Cape Juby   James River RRF, MCDS
  Cape C T-AK 5036 Cape Chalmers   Charleston RRF, MCDS
    T-AK 5037 Cape Canso   James River RRF, MCDS
    T-AK 5038 Cape Charles   Charleston RRF, MCDS
    T-AK 5039 Cape Clear   Charleston RRF, MCDS
    T-AK 5040 Cape Canaveral   James River RRF, MCDS
    T-AK 5041 Cape Cod   Charleston RRF, MCDS
    T-AK 5042 Cape Carthage   James River RRF, MCDS
    T-AK 5043 Cape Catoche   Norfolk RRF, MCDS
  Cape B T-AK 5056 Cape Breton   Alameda CA RRF, MCDS
    T-AK 5057 Cape Bover   Alameda CA RRF, MCDS
    T-AK 5058 Cape Borda   Alameda CA RRF, MCDS
    T-AK 5059 Cape Bon   Alameda CA RRF, MCDS
    T-AK 5060 Cape Blanco   Alameda CA RRF, MCDS
LASH Cape F T-AK 5061 Cape Fear   Alameda CA RRF, 89 Barges
    T-AK 5070 Cape Flattery   Beaumont Tx RRF, 89 Barges
    T-AK 5071 Cape Florida   Beaumont Tx RRF, 89 Barges
    T-AK 5073 Cape Farewell   Beaumont Tx RRF, 89 Barges
    AK-9651 American Kestrel MPS Sqn 2 Diego Garcia 77 Barges
Bulk Northern Light AK-5074 Cape Catawba   Norfolk RRF
    AK-5008 Banner   Alameda CA RRF
    AK-5016 Lake Atlantic James River RRF
    AK-5017 Pride Atlantic James River RRF
    AK-5018 Scan Atlantic James River RRF
    AK-5019 Courier Atlantic Beaumont Tx RRF
  Class D AK-5026 Del Viento Atlantic Beaumont Tx RRF
    T-AK-5049 Del Monte Atlantic Beaumont Tx RRF
    AK-5050 Del Valle Atlantic Beaumont Tx RRF
  Gulf AK-5044 Gulf Banker Atlantic Beaumont Tx RRF
    AK-5045 Gulf Farmer Atlantic Beaumont Tx RRF
    AK-5046 Gulf Merchant Atlantic Beaumont Tx RRF
  Cape G T-AK-2039 Cape Girardeau Pacific Alameda CA RRF
    T-AK-5051 Cape Gibson Pacific Alameda CA RRF
Hy Cargo Strong AK-9205 Strong Virginian MPS Sqn 2 Diego Garcia 500 bed Hosp + Hy lift
Container Buffalo Soldier T-AK 9301 Buffalo Soldier USAF MPS2 Diego Garcia  
  Merlin AK-9302 American Merlin MPS Sqn 2 Diego Garcia Container RoRo
Cargo Noble Star AK-9653 Noble Star MPS Sqn 2 Diego Garcia  
  Green Ridge T-AK 9655 Green Ridge MPS Sqn 2 Diego Garcia 500 bed Hosp + med supl
  Advantage T-AK-9682 Advantage MPS Sqn 2 Diego Garcia  
Fast RORO ALGOL T-AKR 287 Algol   New Orleans  
    T-AKR 288 Bellatrix   New Orleans  
    T-AKR 289 Denebola   Bayonne NJ  
    T-AKR 290 Pollux   New Orleans  
    T-AKR 291 Altair   Norfolk  
    T-AKR 292 Regulus   New Orleans  
    T-AKR 293 Capella   Baltimore  
    T-AKR 294 Antares   Baltimore  
  Shughart T-AKR-295 Shughart Atlantic Baltimore  
    T-AKR-297 Yano Atlantic Newport News  
    T-AKR-299 Soderman Atlantic Baltimore  
  Gordon T-AKR-296 Gordon Atlantic Norfolk  
    T-AKR-298 Gilliland Atlantic Norfolk  
RORO Cape Ducato T-AKR-5051 Cape Ducato Army APA Charleston RRF
    T-AKR-5052 Cape Douglas Army APA Charleston RRF
    T-AKR-5053 Cape Domingo Army APA Charleston RRF
    T-AKR-5054 Cape Diamond Army APA Charleston RRF
    T-AKR-5055 Cape Decision Army APA Charleston RRF
  Comet T-AKR-7 Comet Pacific West coast RRF
  Meteor T-AKR-9 Meteor Pacific West coast RRF
  Cape I T-AKR-10 Cape Island Atlantic Jacksonville  
    T-AKR-11 Cape Intrepid Atlantic Jacksonville  
    T-AKR-5062 Cape Isabel Atlantic Jacksonville  
    T-AKR-5076 Cape Inscription Atlantic Jacksonville  
  Cape T T-AKR-112 Cape Texas Atlantic Houston  
    T-AKR-113 Cape Taylor Atlantic Houston  
    T-AKR-9711 Cape Trinity Atlantic Houston  
  Wm. M. Callaghan T-AKR-1001 Wm. M. Callaghan Pacific Alameda CA RRF
  Cape O T-AKR-2044 Cape Orlando Pacific Alameda CA  
Hy Barge Lft Cape M T-AKR-5063 Cape May Atlantic Norfolk 38 barges
    T-AKR-5064 Cape Mendocino Atlantic Norfolk 38 barges
    T-AKR-5065 Cape Mohican Pacific Alameda CA 38 barges
RORO Cape H T-AKR-5066 Cape Hudson Pacific San Francisco  
    T-AKR-5067 Cape Henry Pacific Alameda CA  
    T-AKR-5068 Cape Horn Pacific San Francisco  
  Cape E T-AKR-5069 Cape Edmont Atlantic Charleston  
  Cape L T-AKR-5077 Cape Lambert Atlantic Beaumont Tx  
    T-AKR-5078 Cape Lobos Atlantic Beaumont Tx  
  Cape K T-AKR-5082 Cape Knox Atlantic New Orleans  
    T-AKR-5083 Cape Kennedy Atlantic New Orleans  
  Cape V T-AKR-9666 Cape Vincent Atlantic Beaumont Tx  
    T-AKR-9701 Cape Victory Atlantic Beaumont Tx  
  Cape R T-AKR-9678 Cape Rise Atlantic Portsmouth VA  
    T-AKR-9679 Cape Ray Atlantic Portsmouth VA  
    T-AKR-9680 Cape Race Atlantic Portsmouth VA  
  Cape W T-AKR-9961 Cape Washington Atlantic Baltimore  
    T-AKR-9962 Cape Wrath Atlantic Baltimore