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NavSource Online: Service Ship Photo Archive

YFD-63 / AFDM-7 Competent

In January 1995 the Naval Sea Systems Command issued a solicitation for the lease of Floating Dock AFDM-7 to a U.S.Port Authority or U.S. owned, operated and licensed firms engaged in shipbuilding, ship repair, and/or overhaul. The Dry Dock will be leased on an ''as is, where is'' basis for use at the Lessee's site in the Jacksonville, FL area. Lessee must take delivery of the AFDM-7 and move and install the dock at their approved Jacksonville homeport site. Lessee must also obtain and maintain Navy certification of the AFDM-7 for the duration of the Lease at their own expense and without alteration or modification of the dry dock. The Navy reserves the right to reject all offers and resolicit at a later date for operation of the AFDM-7 at a Government owned site. Dry dock drawings and technical manuals for all systems and dock equipment are available for prospective offerors review aboard the AFDM-7 (USS Sustain) at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia.

On March 4, 1998, the Navy issued the RFP at issue for drydocking facilities and repair services for four classes of Navy ships over a 5-year period. The solicitation provided that offerors could propose to use, as government-furnished property, a Navy floating drydock with the designation AFDM-7 and the name Sustain which is currently in the Navy's inactive fleet, or alternatively, a contractor-furnished drydock.

On 14 January 2000, the ex Sustain (AFDM 7) parted its tow line in a storm off Cape Hatteras while being towed from Little Creek, VA to Jacksonville FL. No one suspected this was going to be the start of one of the largest rescue/ salvage/towing operations undertaken by the Navy. The task required close coordination among the Fleet, contractors, and SUPSALV, and spanned over 2000 nautical miles (NM) and took 6 weeks to accomplish.

SUPSALV mobilized its East Coast salvage and towing contractor DONJON Marine to relieve GRAPPLE (ARS-53) which was keeping station on the ex Sustain. DONJON Marine in turn sub-contracted Crowley Marine to provide tug support to recover the ex Sustain. During the initial ten days, Mother Nature threw an unprecedented series of winter storms at the drifting dock. Amazingly the ex ,b>SUSTAIN managed to get east of the Gulf Stream and drift south until it was approximately 300 NM due east of Jacksonville. The tug Ensign was dispatched to render additional assistance. SUPSALV determined fleet assistance would be required to recover the tow as personnel were going to have to be placed onboard the dock to re-rig the tow bridle at sea. Divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit TWO and SIMA, Mayport were tasked by Second Fleet to assist in recovering the ex SUSTAIN. Second Fleet also provided SUPPLY (AOE 6) due to her speed and helo support capabilities from Jacksonville and SATURN (T-AFS 10) from Norfolk with HC-6 embarked to transport the salvage team and equipment to effect the rescue of the EX-SUSTAIN. On 29 January, the first 8 members of the MDSU TWO, SIMA, and contractor salvage team led by MDSU TWO MDV Ken Brown boarded the EX SUSTAIN to commence rigging the dock for tow into Bermuda, which was now only 60 miles away. On 16 February 2000 EX-SUSTAIN cleared Bermudan waters under tow by CRUSADER enroute to Jacksonville. Finally, after an uneventful eight day tow, the dock arrived safely at Atlantic Marine and Dry Dock, Inc. in Jacksonville, FL.

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