Military Sealift Command, February 07, 1997 - Today the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command awarded a $4.5 million contract to Evergreen Helicopters, Inc., of McMinnville, Ore., to test the feasibility of using commercial helicopters to resupply U.S. Navy ships at sea. This contract award marks the latest of three such tests, and the second test performed in conjunction with a regular Navy deployment. Two helicopters will be used for the test.
This series of tests will include an initial short orientation period of approximately 30 days to prepare the ship and helicopters. This orientation will be immediately followed by a full Mediterranean Sea deployment aboard the combat stores ship USNS Saturn (T-AFS 10). The dual-pilot, Sikorsky-built, former military SH-3 helicopters to be used in the test can lift up to 8,000 pounds of cargo externally. They will integrate with Navy fleet units for vertical replenishment, logistics and search and rescue operations on a round-the-clock basis.
Typically, MSC combat stores ships get under way with two Navy combat support helicopters along with their flight and maintenance crews. Commercial helicopters like the SH-3 require smaller air support crews. In addition to actually flying the aircraft, the contracted commercial helicopter air crews are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of their aircraft in addition to providing their own support crews.