USNS Kiska leaves U.S. 7th Fleet for deactivation
SINGAPORE - Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) ammunition ship USNS Kiska (T-AE 35) will cross the international date line Nov. 18, leaving the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility for the last time as the ship heads to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to begin preparations for deactivation.
Kiska has served the U.S. Navy’s fleet for more than 38 years, the past 10 years were spent as U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal vessel for moving ordnance around the 48 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The 9,340-ton Kilauea class Kiska provided underway replenishment of all types of ammunition, from missiles to bullets, for U.S. Navy ships at sea.
“Through the tremendous efforts of her countless Sailors through the years, Kiska enabled our fleet to stay at sea and effectively perform our missions of power projections and sea control in the most challenging operational environment, thousands of miles from U.S. soil,” said Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet.
MSC’s fleet of Kilauea class and Mars class combat stores ships, are being replaced by MSC’s new fleet of Lewis and Clark class, T-AKE dry cargo/ammunition ships, which consolidates both ship missions by providing multi-product, combat logistic support to U.S. Navy ships at sea. USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE-9) relieved Kiska of her duties in U.S. 7th Fleet’s area of responsibility on Oct. 30. The primary goal of the T-AKE program, which calls for up to 14 ships at a budget of over $6 billion, is to provide effective fleet underway replenishment capability at the lowest life cycle cost.
“Kiska’s tradition of service to the fleet has remained consistent throughout the years, said retired Navy Capt. Robert T. Collins, who served as Kiska’s commanding officer from 1992-1994. “I feel very fortunate to have been a part of her proud legacy and tradition of excellence.”
Kiska was commissioned into the active U.S. Navy force as USS Kiska (AE-35) in 1972. The ship served during the Vietnam conflict and deployed to the Arabian Gulf in support of operation Desert Storm from 1990-1991.
“Kiska is a legend in Seventh Fleet, and has truly epitomized our motto—ready power for peace,” Van Buskirk said.
Kiska was decommissioned and transferred to the service of the Navy’s MSC in 1996. Kiska also deployed in support Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
“Kiska is the finest ship and crew that I have commanded in my 21 years as a ship captain with MSC,” said Kiska’s civil service master Capt. Jeff Cook.
Kiska, with a crew of 133 civil service mariners employed by MSC is scheduled to be deactivated in January of next year.
MSC operates approximately 110 noncombatant, merchant mariner-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.