The Military Sealift Command (MSC) represents a group of highly trained professionals who operate within the United States armed forces. Originally created to offer sea and ocean transportation for each of the four primary military services and government agencies dependant on open water travel, the MSC has expanded its responsibilities, especially after the United States military began consolidating departments within the four branches of service. With the inception of the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) on July 9, 1949, the United States responded to heightened tensions in Eastern Europe that required rapid deployment of personnel and equipment.


A core fleet of long charter ships comprises the bulk of the vessels within the organization’s fleet. Operating under the name United States Naval Ship (USNS), the prefix differs from the USS prefix that adorns combat vessels. Although the crafts carry armaments, the weapons are used for defensive purposes, not for use as battle ready guns and mortars. Some of the boats in the fleet might include navy or marine personnel who carry out communication and special mission functions. Chartered craft in the fleet presents the typical merchant class prefix of SS, MV, or GTS, without the addition of hull numbers for identification. Military Sealift Command reports to the Defense Department run Transportation Command.


The Military Sealift Command operates five strategic programs. At the foundation of the organization’s mission, the Sealift program provides the majority of the supply transportation services, as well as operates tankers that offer fuel support and dry cargo vessels that move large inventories of supplies, ammunition, and military vehicles. The Combat Logistics Force is responsible for replenishing the ammo and weapon stock of ships operating on open waters. Instead of docking for replenishments, boats remain at sea to perform maneuvers. The Special Mission program handles the operation of ships for unique navy and federal government missions. Prepositioning program helps all four branches move forward into attacking positions by sending supply ships to important strategic locations.

Mission and Vision

MSC has created a mission statement that supports joint war fighting operations that cover the full range of military operations anywhere in the world. The goal of the vital supplemental organization is to coordinate flawlessly with every service branch to lead the rest of the world in open water logistical performance. With the vision of “United We Sail,” the supply and support group represents America’s foremost maritime transportation entity. The heart of the mission and vision is to recruit and develop highly motivated candidates who want to serve the country honorably.

Operating Themes

As the group gained more prominence within the United States armed forces, a series of operating themes have emerged to drive the mission and vision of the Military Sealift Command. Leadership development remains the most important objective for MSC, as constant training produces tomorrow’s leaders on board vessels, as well as in logistical control centers. Proactive management reduces the red tape that bogs down decision making within other federal government agencies. Advanced technology fosters enhanced communication to ensure on time delivery of gear, equipment, ammunition, and food supplies. Above all, the organization emphasizes the support of local communities from implementing conservation programs to running camps that teach leadership skills to area youth.

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