January 31, 2003

More RRF activations
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration (MARAD) recently announced that it activated 13 Ready Reserve Force (RRF) ships on Friday, Jan. 24 to support Operation Enduring Freedom. The activations follow orders received from the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command.

The recently-activated ships join 19 others already activated to support Operation Enduring Freedom. These, combined with four others on long-term assignment, bring the total of activated MARAD RRF ships to 36.

For more than 25 years, MARAD's RRF has augmented the Military Sealift Command's 125-ship cargo fleet. The ships were used in Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM and more recently in Haiti, Somalia, Croatia, Bosnia, and for humanitarian support as part of Hurricane "Mitch" relief in Central America.

"The RRF is a great asset because it provides efficient sealift, tailored to meet the requirements of the military. The program also supports vital marine industries and labor unions that have been in decline, but are critical to support our nation in times of war," Maritime Administrator Capt. William Schubert stated. All RRF ships are crewed by American merchant mariners who volunteer for this potentially difficult duty.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration (MARAD) manages the RRF, which is a fleet of 72 militarily useful ships. This fleet, located throughout the country, is maintained in a reserve status in the event that the Department of Defense needs these ships to support the rapid, massive movement of military supplies and troops for a military exercise or large-scale conflict.

The following is a summary of activations that have taken place to date:

Recently activated: Ship Name Layberth

  • CAPE EDMONT Charleston, SC
  • CAPE HENRY San Francisco
  • CAPE HORN San Francisco
  • CAPE HUDSON San Francisco
  • CAPE ISABEL Long Beach, CA
  • CAPE ISLAND Tacoma, WA
  • CAPE ORLANDO San Francisco
  • CAPE RAY Portsmouth, VA
  • CAPE WRATH Baltimore

Activated earlier in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM:

  • CAPE DECISION Charleston, SC
  • CAPE DIAMOND Charleston, SC
  • CAPE DOMINGO Charleston, SC
  • CAPE DOUGLAS Charleston, SC
  • CAPE DUCATO Charleston, SC
  • CAPE GIBSON Alameda, CA
  • CAPE JOHN Orange, TX
  • CAPE JOHNSON Wilmington, NC
  • CAPE KENNEDY New Orleans
  • CAPE KNOX New Orleans
  • CAPE RACE Portsmouth, VA
  • CAPE RISE Portsmouth, VA
  • CAPE TAYLOR Houston
  • CAPE TEXAS Houston
  • CAPE TRINITY Houston
  • CAPE VICTORY Beaumont, TX
  • CAPE VINCENT Beaumont, TX
  • CURTISS Port Hueneme, CA
  • WRIGHT Baltimore

On long-term operations with Department of Defense

  • CHESAPEAKE Diego Garcia
  • CAPE JACOB Diego Garcia

The Ready Reserve Force is the premier sealift readiness program of the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD). The overall mission of MARAD is to promote the development and maintenance of an adequate, well-balanced merchant marine, sufficient to carry the Nation's waterborne commerce, and capable of serving as a naval and military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency.


MARAD recently issued a notice outlining the remployment rights of merchant mariners who leave existing employment to support sealift mobilization needs.

Reemployment Benefit:

U.S. merchant seamen who voluntarily leave their existing employment for employment on a vessel supporting the sealift needs of the United States during a war, armed conflict, national emergency or maritime mobilization need are entitled to receive reemployment rights similar to military reservists. This benefit does not apply to commercially employed mariners or civil service mariners who are employed and serving on U.S.-flag vessels, but is intended to protect those qualified mariners who are no longer sailing but who volunteer to temporarily leave permanent employment in shoreside positions to serve on sealift vessels in a national crisis.

Reemployment Rights Criteria:

The Maritime Administration under authority delegated by the Secretary of Transportation certifies that the merchant seaman was employed in the activation or operation of a vessel -

1. That is in the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) including the Ready Reserve Force (RRF), when in use or being activated for use at the request of Secretary of Defense; or

2. That is requisitioned by the Secretary of Transportation during any national emergency declared by proclamation of the President; or

3. That is owned, chartered or controlled by the U.S. for a war, armed conflict, national emergency or maritime mobilization need (including testing for readiness performance); and

4. During the period of that employment, the merchant seaman possesses a valid license, certificate of registry or merchant mariner's document issued by the US Coast Guard.

Maritime Administration Certification:

If a U.S. seaman meets the above criteria, the individual may submit an application for certification of reemployment rights within 45 days after completion of service. The individual must submit relevant documentation to:

Maritime Administration
Office of Sealift Support
MAR 630, Room 7304
400 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20590

Documentation must include certificate(s) of discharge or letter certifying service from the Master of the sealift vessels or authorized representatives of government contracted ship managers, copies of relevant U.S. Coast Guard license and/or Merchant Mariner's Document (MMD) and a letter of request for certification. MARAD will issue or deny certification not later than 20 days after receipt of request from the merchant seaman.

Notifications to Employer:

Prior to volunteer service, the individual must give advance written or verbal notice of above applicable employment as a merchant seaman to the person's employer. After service, the mariner must submit an application to their previous employer for reemployment not later than 14 days after completion of service that is less than 181 days, or not later than 90 days after completion of service greater than 181 days.


MARAD shall provide administrative assistance to merchant seamen volunteers who are certified for reemployment per the above instructions and have been refused reemployment. The seaman must provide a complaint in writing to the MARAD address above describing the allegations of failure, refusal, or imminent failure or refusal of an employer to grant reemployment rights. MARAD will communicate with the individual and the employer to attempt to resolve the complaint without litigation. If attempts to resolve the complaint are unsuccessful MARAD may seek advice of the Department of Labor. If the complainant requests, MARAD will refer to the Attorney General a complaint relating to a private or State employer, or to the Merit Systems Protection Board for litigation, a complaint relating to a Federal executive agency employer.

If there are questions you may contact Captain Rod McFadden at the Maritime Administration on 202-366-2647 or E-mail:

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