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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

MV TSgt. John A. Chapman (AK-323)
MV Merlin (AK-323)
MV American Merlin (AK-9302)

Container Roll-on/Roll-off Ship Logistics Prepositioning Ship:
  • Built in 1978 in France as MV CGM Utirillo
  • Purchased in 1992 by American Automar, re-flagged US and renamed MV American Merlin
  • Acquired by the US Navy Military Sealift Command (MSC) under long term lease
  • MV American Merlin (AK-9302) was operated for MSC as part of the Prepositioning Program until 2001
  • MV American Merlin was one of the Military Sealift Command's seven Container Ships and was part of the 36 ships in the Prepositioning Program
  • MV American Merlin was assigned to Maritime Prepositioning Program Squadron Two and operated out of Diego Garcia
  • Returned to her owners after completion of her MSC charter in late 2001
  • Acquired by Sealift Inc and renamed MV Merlin
  • Reacquired by MSC under long term contract in 2003
  • MV Merlin (AK-323) is operated and maintained by Sealift Inc and is one of MSC's seventeen Roll-on/Roll-off container ships of the 36 ship Prepositioning Program
  • MV Merlin (AK-323) is assigned to Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron One and is assigned to the European area
  • Renamed MV TSgt. John A. Chapman (AK-323), 8 April 2005
    Displacement 26,438 t.(lt), 40,357 t.(fl)
    Length 670'
    Beam 87'
    Draft 34' (max)
    Speed 16 kts.
    Cargo Capacity 143,000 sq ft., 1,063 20-ft containers.
    Armament none
    Complement 19 Civilian Mariners
    Propulsion 2 SEMT-Pielstick 18 PC2.5 V diesels; 23,400 hp; 1 shaft; bow thruster

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    MV TSgt. John A. Chapman (AK-323) - MSC Charter
    Merlin 210k
    Technical Sergeant John A. Chapman, from the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, was killed March 4, 2002, while fighting against the Taliban during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan. He was posthumously decorated with the nationís second-highest award for valor, the Air Force Cross.

    The President of the United States Pakes Pride in Presenting The Air Force Cross (Posthumously)

    To: John Chapman T/Sergeant, U.S. Air Force
    For Services as Set Forth in the Following

    The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, U.S.C., awards the Air Force Cross to TSgt John Chapman for extraordinary heroism in military operation against an armed enemy of the United States as a 24th Special Tactics Squadron, Combat Controller in the vicinity of Gardez, in the eastern highlands of Afghanistan, on 4 March 2002. On this date, during his helicopter insertion for a reconnaissance and time sensitive targeting close air support mission, Sergeant Chapman's aircraft came under heavy machine gun fire and received a direct hit from a rocket propelled grenade which caused a United States Navy sea-air-land team member to fall from the aircraft. Though heavily damaged, the aircraft egressed the area and made an emergency landing seven kilometers away. Once on the ground Sergeant Chapman established communication with an AC-130 gunship to insure the area was secure while providing close air support coverage for the entire team. He then directed the gunship to begin the search for the missing team member. He requested, coordinated, and controlled the helicopter that extracted the stranded team and aircrew members. These actions limited the exposure of the aircrew and team to hostile fire. Without regard for his own life Sergeant Chapman volunteered to rescue his missing team member from an enemy strong hold. Shortly after insertion, the team made contact with the enemy. Sergeant Chapman engaged and killed two enemy personnel. He continued to advance reaching the enemy position then engaged a second enemy position, a dug-in machine gun nest. At this time the rescue team came under effective enemy fire from three directions. From close range he exchanged fire with the enemy from minimum personal cover until he succumbed to multiple wounds. His engagement and destruction of the first enemy position and advancement on the second position enabled his team to move to cover and break enemy contact. In his own words, his Navy sea-air-land team leader credits Sergeant Chapman unequivocally with saving the lives of the entire rescue team. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, and the dedication to the service of his country, Sergeant Chapman reflects the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
    Bill Gonyo
    Merlin 71k MV TSgt. John A. Chpman (AK-323) moored pierside at Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point, N.C., 8 April 2006 during renaming ceremony. MSC web site
    MV Merlin (AK-323) - MSC Charter
    Merlin 42k MV Merlin (AK-323) moored pierside, date and place unknown. MSC web site

    There is no DANFS history for MV American Merlin (AK-9302) / MV Merlin (AK-323) / MV TSgt. John A. Chapman (T-AK-323) at NavSource
    Crew Contact And Reunion Information
    Not Applicable to this vessel
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    This page is created and maintained by Gary P. Priolo
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    Last Updated 13 September 2009