Story by PO2 Kenneth Gardner on 04/26/2018ACAJUTLA, El Salvador (April 23, 2018) The Military Sealift Command's Roll On/ Roll Off Vehicle Ship USNS Brittin (T-AKR 305) became the largest ship ever to make port in Acajutla, El Salvador, April 23, during Joint Logistics Over the Shore (JLOTS) 18.
Brittin is a Bob-Hope class Large, Medium Speed Roll On/ Roll Off (LMSR) ship that serves in the Sealift Program as a dry cargo surge sealift carrier.
Sitting at 951 feet 5 inches long, Brittin took the title from USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), coming in at 894 feet. Comfort's last visit to El Salvador was during its Continuing Promise mission in 2015.
"I think anytime you can do something first and do it safely is great for the port and is great for MSC," said Lt. Cmdr Matt Rattigan, assigned to Military Sealift Commands Expeditionary Port Unit 109. "This opportunity allows the port to showcase to their commercial fleet that they can support a vessel this size, while also giving back because they know what we are trying to provide to their country, and so far the support has been great."
JLOTS 18 is part of U.S. Southern Command's exercise Beyond the Horizon, led by U.S. Army South, that helps to bolster regional and partner relations through humanitarian and civic assistance projects, medical readiness exercises, and exercise related construction projects. Brittin served a critical role during the exercise by providing transportation support to the units involved.
"Trying to line haul and fly in all this type of gear isn't remotely cost effective and would take a lot longer," said Rattigan. "There really isn't any other way to do it without bringing it down by vessel."
After being loaded with Improved Navy Lighterage System craft, along with the vehicles and gear needed to provide engineering and medical support during Beyond the Horizon, Brittin departed Newport News, Va., and made its way to Puerto Rico to load an additional 81 pieces of gear and equipment.
Britten departed Puerto Rico, sailed through the Panama Canal, finally anchoring 3.6 miles out from Acajutla. Once anchored, U.S. Navy and Army units, from Naval Beach Group 2 and U.S. Army 11th Transportation Battalion, 7th Transportation Brigade, used Improved Navy Lighterage System Causeway Ferries and shipboard cranes to conduct Lift On/ Lift Off operations to transport the gear ashore before Brittin made port to finish with pier-side offload operations.
"When you have an MSC ship, specifically an LMSR, that has the capability and size it has, the capabilities are almost limitless," said Rattigan.
Brittin is named for Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. 1st Class Nelson V. Brittin who was killed in action during the Korean War.