MTMC icons move to Operations Center – model ship versions of the Strong Patriot and Strong Cajun
The MTMC Operations Center at Fort Eustis, Va., is the new display area for two of the command’s treasured icons.
Detailed large-scale models of the vessels Strong Patriot and Strong Cajun were moved to the Fort Eustis facility Sept. 28.
“These ships bespeak MTMC global operations through history,” said Mike Bellafaire, command historian. “There’s no better display area than the main entranceway of the MTMC Operations Center.”
The models had been on display within the Joint Traffic Management Office, of MTMC Headquarters Alexandria, since the summer of 2000. Earlier, the models were on display in the Nassif Building, the former MTMC Headquarters building in Falls Church, Va.
The vessels were donated to MTMC by Van Ommeren Shipping LLC, of Stamford, Conn., in recent years to commemorate shipping work done by the firm for MTMC. The Strong Cajun made shipments to the Azores from 1994 to June 2000. The vessel was succeeded by the Strong Patriot. The latter vessel currently moves MTMC cargoes to the Azores on 25-day intervals from Newport News, Va.
The Strong Patriot model was given to MTMC in January 2001.
“They’re a true symbol of our global operations,” said Carol Breen, a traffic management specialist. “We’ll miss them, but the Operations Center is the right place for them to be displayed.”
What about the Strong Patriot and the Strong Cajun?
“Sure, I’ve worked with those vessels,” said Rick Shilby, a long-time MTMC operations officer, “They were owned by Van Ommeren. The Strong Patriot continues to fill an important niche in our MTMC shipping movements to the Azores.
“I haven’t heard about the Strong Cajun in some time.”
The Strong Patriot is well known to Kevin Burns, commander, Azores detachment.
“The Strong Patriot is the primary ship used for supplying Lajes Field in the Azores,” said Burns. “The ship has served the base well since it was introduced to this route in June 2000, replacing the Strong Cajun.
“The ship is responsible for carrying about 90 percent of all the supplies used for the base, as well as nearly all the privately owned vehicles for the service members and nearly all their household goods,” said Burns.
“Using the ship has allowed Lajes Field to cut its spare parts inventories by over 10 percent, due to the reliability of the service schedule.”
The Van Ommeren Web site says the Strong Patriot was built in 1990 and has a 40-ton heavy lift capacity and a 60-ton swivel roll-on/roll-off ramp. The vessel carries over 2,000 metric tons of cargo.
Additional information on the ships comes from Mike Chapell, who has worked in the Van Ommeren’s liner service department since the Azores contract began in 1994.
Strong Cajun was originally named Big Orange X, an ocean supply vessel owned by Seacor, said Chapell. Upon winning the contract, Van Ommeren had the vessel lengthened and widened at Germany’s Blohm and Voss Shipyard.
“The Strong Cajun performed well in servicing the Air Force base in the Azores,” said Chapell. “Van Ommeren offered lower rates than its predecessor. The Strong Cajun was outfitted to transport more than 100 40-foot containers, versus only 45 on the vessel we replaced.”
In addition, the vessel served the U.S. Navy air station in Bermuda.
The Strong Cajun was sold to a Dutch buyer in 2000 and is now reportedly being used in a search for treasure at a sunken ship site.
The ship sale offered the shipping firm an opportunity to upgrade its services by purchasing the Strong Patriot.
“The newer vessel has additional cargo space, additional speed, additional crane capacity, additional below deck stowage, additional reefer capacity, and a cargo ramp,” said Chapell. “The vessel is a great addition to our fleet. It has proven it can operate in the harsh North Atlantic and keep its schedule.”
The models were provided to help inform MTMC transporters on the vessel capabilities, he said.
“We know a picture is worth a thousand words and we wanted to go the extra mile and offer a 3-D model,” said Chapell.
Van Ommeren also operates the U.S. Flag vessel Strong Virginian.
COPYRIGHT 2003 U.S. Military Traffic Management Command
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