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Abilene Slim SASS 81783

Transporting Troops Overseas

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I saw this article this morning about the luxury liner SS United States. (link below.) It was a dual-purpose ship and could be converted in a single day to transport 14,000 troops. Which leads to my question to all you vets who have been deployed overseas within the last 10 or so years.

 

Did you fly, or travel by ship? Given the large amount of heavy equipment and large troop numbers, I would think some of you traveled by ship, but maybe it's not done that way now?

 

By contrast, when my dad was in the Navy and were stationed in Japan in the late '50s, my mom, sister and I got there by troopship along with the other Navy and Marine personnel.

 

Anyway, my mind is wandering a bit as I'm snowed in today. :)

 

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/nation/preservation-group-is-new-ss-united-states-owner-1224856.html

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My Dad reluctantly talked about four troop ship rides he got for free in the 40's. Worst food, worst experience he EVER had. Worse than riding into action in a glider, he would say. He never would eat spam the rest of his life, after having it on the ships.

 

Good luck, GJ

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Guest Chief

As a young man age 9, me my sister and mother went to germany in Jan 1947. second boat load of dependents to get there, dad a pilot had been stationed in Berlin after being in the CBI theater. from 47 to 53 we made the crossing 3 times by ship and last one by air. I know all about SPAM, would rather starve than eat it. Chief

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Transporting troops by ship is expensive and slow. Nowadays the huge cargo planes have taken over the duty and occasionally commercial charters.

In the 40s it was necessary to move hundreds of thousands of troops to several different theaters of operations. Today a typical troop movement is Brigade sized.

And Afghanistan has a sever shortage of deep water ports. ;)

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The current method is to move most equipment by ship with only a very small number of Soldiers on board to safeguard it (really small, like 3-4 Soldiers per battalion). Troops move by airplane, most of which are commercially contracted. There is an airline whose name is World Air, I think, that gets most of the contracts for that. Very few Army personnel move by military aircraft because they're mostly dedicated to hauling Air Force personnel / equipment.

 

One could move some equipment by air, but it's astronomically expensive. There is one Air Force plane that can haul a tank, but a tank weighs 70 tons (yes, 140,000 pounds!). Imagine the fuel bill, and having to refuel numerous times in the air. Nope, equipment is still hauled by ship.

 

I'm speaking only for the Army here, because that's all I know.

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Guest Copper Mart

Let's see..... Of the many ocean crossings in the service of Uncle Sam, I traveled by troop ship, DC6B, 707, DC8 and 747. The north Atlantic (USNS General S.D. Sturgis) during the first week of March is an experience. Whales, dolphins, green water over the bow, etc., and I won a carton of Lucky Strikes playing bingo. The plane trips were totally uneventful apart from getting a glimpse of a U-2 taking off in the Azores (1961).

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And Afghanistan has a sever shortage of deep water ports. ;)

 

Sorry Bob. You're correct that Afghanistan is landlocked. However, the ship movement is going into another location that has been in the news a lot recently (not Egypt), and then flown. The primary mode of movement is still ship due to cost.

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My Dad made the Pacific crossing from California to Korea and back for the Korean War on a troop ship. He was an Army Capt. and was in charge of the embarked troops. As such, he got to share a stateroom with one of the ship's officers and eat in the wardroom. He didn't have a whole lot to say in the way of complaints (and not a word about Spam!).

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The ship that I was stationed on in 1987 got emergency deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operation Earnest Will. Took us 3 weeks ta get thar from Norfolk, Va. The ship was a slow LPD.

 

 

 

CPK

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When we moved to and from theater in 2008 it was by jet. Wide body, filled to the brim with troops. Two stops both ways, one in the northern U.S. and one in Europe, then to Kuwait. Deploying back to the U.S. both stops were complete lockdown. Small area with restrooms and snack machines.

 

Troops going into Iraq and Afghanistan were going via Kuwait then, and as far as I know, still are.

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This has been interesting. It's pretty amazing how aviation has revolutionized so many things. The hauling capacity of airplanes (and number of them) has grown astronomically in the last 40 or so years. Thanks for the replies.

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I made the trip from California to Tokyo in 1957 courtesy of the U.S. Army, by air in a piston engine C97. Actual flying time was about 36 hours. Two fuel stops were made on the way. The trip from Tokyo to Korea was by C124.

 

The return was on board the USS M.M. Patrick, a converted Liberty Ship. The trip from Inchon to Seattle took 2 weeks.

 

Blackfoot

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I recall a wonderful North Atlantic crossing in January 1959. Well, I remember getting on and getting off.

I do not recall the name of the ship. We returned on the USS Bruckner in 1960, June it was. Much better voyage. But lotsa icebergs. We did not play Titanic tho.

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We (the Navy) still deploy with Marines onboard our amphibious ships. However, aircraft are used when troop build-up needs to take place over a shorter period of time.

 

The only civilians I have seen transported in the last 21 years have been during times of civil unrest on foreign soil - mostly diplomats and their families, but also American citizens in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

In late 1990 we evacuated people from Liberia (don't remember where we took them to) - then went and set off the coast of Haifa, Israel after the start of the first Gulf War. We didn't do any evacuations from Israel. Most recently (2006) we evacuated people from Lebanon and shipped them to Cyprus for further transport via aircraft.

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The return was on board the USS M.M. Patrick, a converted Liberty Ship. The trip from Inchon to Seattle took 2 weeks.

 

Blackfoot

Similar experience here. Seattle to Yokohama aboard converted Liberty ship USS General Mann, an 11 day journey in 1958. Yokohama to Iwakuni by C-54. The return trip in 1960 was an 8-day voyage aboard the USS Mitchell. For crossing the international date line aboard the Gen. Mann, we were all made members of the "Domain of the Golden Dragon". Got a fun souvenir. I thought this was pretty cool when I was a kid and still do.

 

Domain of the Golden Dragon

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SUmmer of '65 I went from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Bremerhaven, Germany on the USNS General Alexander M. Patch. Within the next 12 months the troop ships transfered to the Pacific and European theater troops were moved by air.

 

Sometime in the 80s I mentioned this to my uncle Retired Master Chief John D. Perry. He mentioned that he had helped evecuate civilians from Egypt during the Suez Canal Crisis on the Patch. Uncle John's favorite ship of all time was BB55, the North Carolina.

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1970-1976 - Backn forth a coupla times between USA and Yokota AB, Japan and Spangdahlem AB, W. Germany - yup back in the good old days. Always by 4 engined commercial jet...

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