Signet tug guides MSC ship to Ready Reserve duty

(NEWPORT NEWS, Va.) — The tugboat Signet Warhorse II towed Military Sealift Command’s large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off (LMSR) ship USNS Yano (T-AKR 297) from Newport News Marine Terminal to Beaumont, Texas, where the vessel will permanently join the U.S. Maritime Administration’s Ready Reserve Force (RRF).

Powered by two EMD 20-710G7B turbo diesels that produce a total of 16,500 horsepower, Signet Warhorse II completed its 16-day tow on April 18, pulling 61,221 tons of deadweight at about 6 knots, said Sean Blanco, Military Sealift Command (MSC) Atlantic’s marine transportation specialist.

Despite its relatively diminutive size, Signet Warhorse II is a powerful workhorse of the sea. For this tow, the 145-foot tug pulled an MSC ship that was 55 times more than its weight of 1,075 tons. “Tugboats have to be stronger and more maneuverable in order for them to pull supersize ships like Yano,” Blanco said.

Military Sealift Command photo

Signet specializes in rig moves, towing, ship assist and escort, vessel design, new vessel construction, repair and maintenance. Signet was one of the first to incorporate EPA Tier 3 engines into all of its vessel designs.

Originally constructed in 1980 as containership Leise Maersk, Yano was lengthened twice, in 1987 and 1990, and then was purchased by the U.S. Navy. It subsequently was converted to an LMSR ship. In 1997, Yano entered service under MSC. It was named after Medal of Honor recipient Army Sgt. 1st Class Rodney J.T. Yano.

As part of its Strategic Sealift operations, the Maritime Administration manages and maintains a fleet of inactive, government-owned vessels known as the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF), which provides a reserve of approximately 100 vessels – mostly military-useful cargo and tanker ships – ready to support national defense and emergencies. The NDRF also includes the military-focused RRF.

MSC is the ocean transportation provider for the Department of Defense, operating a fleet of 110 noncombatant ships daily around the world.

– Military Sealift Command

By Rich Miller