This week Crowley announced it was awarded a charter contract for the Military Sealift Command to operate a tanker for the Defense Department and managed the acquisition of a vehicle carrier for the Maritime Administration’s sealift recapitalization effort.

On March 21, Crowley said it won a contract to operate the

Ice-class tanker Stena Polaris to help serve the bulk fuel needs for the DoD. The company has finished converting the ship to meet military service standards, including registration as a U.S.-flag vessel and adding at-sea refueling capabilities for the military. Conversion work occurred at Fincantieri’s Marine Repair facility near Jacksonville, Fla.

In this role, the Stena Polaris will “transport necessary fuel for defense operations in the Arctic and Antarctic regions,” and other times it will transport fuel for defense services in the Mediterranean Sea.

The contract to operate the Stena Polaris has a one-year base term with several option years that could reach upward of $98 million if they are all exercised, the company said.

Crowley said it worked with the DNV classification society and Coast Guard to verify the ship meets applicable standards. The ship is now occupied by U.S. mariners and planned to enter service this week.

The Stena Polaris, a Ice-class tanker that Crowley will operate under a contract charter for the Defense Department’s Military Sealift Command. The vessel is planned to mostly transport fuel for DoD operations in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. (Photo: Crowley)
The Stena Polaris, a Ice-class tanker that Crowley will operate under a contract charter for the Defense Department’s Military Sealift Command. The vessel is planned to mostly transport fuel for DoD operations in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. (Photo: Crowley)

“The Stena Polaris plays a critical mission for our warfighters serving our nation in austere environments, and fundamental work to help our military succeed will be done by the strong workforce and maritime industry in Jacksonville,” Mike Golonka, vice president for government maritime services at the Crowley Solutions business unit, said in a statement.

Separately, on March 22 the company said it has successfully managed the acquisition of the MV Honor, the first ship under a 2021 Vessel Acquisition management (VAM) contract to help the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) recapitalize the sealift fleet.

This vehicle carrier ship is specifically part of the effort to recapitalize the U.S. Ready Reserve Force.

“The acquisitions will enhance the Ready Reserve Force by increasing ship reliability and reducing the overall age of the fleet, a crucial component in conducting U.S. Department of Defense sealifts,” the company said in a statement.

Crowley is leading the acquisition and conversion of the Freedom and Honor vehicle carriers from the American Roll-On Roll-Off Carrier Group. The company is working with Stena RoRo, Serco and LCE (Life Cycle Engineering) as part of the acquisition and conversion effort.

In this process, Crowley oversees the modification and maintenance required to make sure these two ships are ready for service and in compliance with Coast Guard, American Bureau of Shipping and DoD requirements.

After the two ships are purchased, Crowley is contracted to maintain and operate the vessels on behalf of MARAD.

The government is working to buy and convert used vessels for the sealift force before moving on to buying new ships later after previous delays.

Crowley noted the Ready Reserve Force provides almost half of the government-owned surge sealift capability.

The company said it used proprietary software, called SHIPFAX, that “allowed for a strategic and data-driven identification of the initial two vessels best suited for conversion to Ready Reserve service,” a Crowley press release said.

“The platform, which will be used in Crowley’s future acquisitions, is able to analyze a vessel’s lifecycle history, develop a condition summary and estimate ongoing operation requirements for optimal vessel acquisition and management execution,” the release added.

“The Freedom and Honor will help revitalize the Ready Reserve Force, a fleet critical to our national security. We look forward to continuing the momentum with additional opportunities to acquire, manage and operate vessels on behalf of MARAD and the U.S. government,” Miles Spratto, Crowley program manager for vessel acquisition, said in a statement.

Relatedly, on March 22 Crowley won a $12 million modification from the Military Sealift Command to continue funding the operation and maintenance of six government-owned maritime prepositioning force ships.

This includes the USNS 2nd LT John P. Bobo (T-AK 3008); USNS PFC Dewayne T. Williams (T-AK 3009); USNS 1st LT Baldomero Lopez (T-AK 3010); USNS 1st LT Jack Lummus (T-AK 3011); USNS SGT William R. Button (T-AK 3012); and USNS GYSGT Fred W. Stockham (T-AK 3017).

The modification includes a six-month base period lasting through September 2022 and a three-month option period lasting through December 2022. If all options are exercised, the total value of the contract will rise to $49 million.

“The ships will continue to support Military Sealift Command’s worldwide prepositioning requirements,” DoD said in a contract announcement.

This bridge contract was not competitively procured in accordance with regulations.