Pics of the Day: On a Boat!

So remember how Chief of Naval Operations Adm. jonathan Greenert announced in March that he was sending four Avenger-class minesweepers (technically they’re called mine countermeasures ships) to the Persian Gulf, just to “be sure … that we are ready” in case Iran tried anything weird aimed at cutting off a massive quantity of the world’s oil shipments.

One question we didn’t ask was; how will the 224-foot long minesweepers get there to the Gulf from their homeport of San Diego?

Like many I assumed they’d steam there. Nope, the Avengers (like that reference?) are being shipped there from the Port of Long Beach, Calif., aboard the massive ship, Tern; a semi-submersible transport vessel that is designed to haul mammoth pieces of oceangoing gear, like ships or parts of offshore oil rigs, around the world. The Tern, operated by a company called Dockwise, looks like a cross between a cargo freighter and a barge and, as you can see in the pic above, she’s carrying the four minesweepers to the Gulf.

Ok, time for a random question; what’s the coolest feature of the Avengers class ships? They’re wooden hulled. Seriously, the ships have wooden hulls that are coated in fiberglass, this reduced the likelihood that they’ll set off magnetic mines and gives them the ability to absorb the energy of a nearby explosion. Pretty damn cool.

Click through the jump for more pics.

Images via SurfaceWarriors Flickr.

  • carloscardoso

    Almost the Helicarrier!

    • Jim McClay

      This is the way the USS Cole was brought back for repairs to Pascagoula, the place where she was built.

  • Joe

    Believe they shipped similar ships a similar way back in 1990 for the whole iraq part one thing

  • Questionable

    Is this a cost effective move or is it wear and tear on the crew and ships thing?

    • Moose


    • Mastro

      I wouldn’t want to be on an Avenger class ship in a nice North Atlantic storm.

      I’m sure the lift ship saves an overhaul (or 4, I guess) of these wooden warriors.

      • Pfnaak

        If they’re steaming off from California, they probably won’t cross the Atlantic.

    • joe

      Minehunters tend to have slow, precision drive systems. Very good for manouvring *precisely* twenty metres to port where there’s a known mine threat. Not so great for steaming a quarter of a way round the world on a deadline!

  • leesea

    MSC has been chartering Flo/Flo type ships to lift mineships to CENTCOM and other AORs for decades~ Saves a lot of wear and tear on the main engines. Lifts have been from one to four ships.

    Dockwise is one of the largest owner/operators of that ship type. There predecessoir company lifted Samuel B Robert back from the Gulf - way back when

    • mike

      And the Cole too.

  • Ryan

    That hull construction is really interesting. I wonder what she looks like from the inside. It would be something to be on a modern military vessel and see wood beams lining the hull

  • Sgt_Buffy

    Semi-submersible ships, one of the weirder, more useful gargantuan creations of man. If I told you, “hey, let’s build a cargo ship that will sink itself!” You might look at me weird, and yet, here we are.

  • Prodozul

    Wasn’t there a similar ship used to bring the Cole back?

  • WRG01

    This is probably how the new LCS will get across the Pacific. ;)

    • EJ257

      I thought the LCS are as big as they are so they can avoid this.

  • Brian G

    Seems like a good time to get out there with some scrapers and paint during the trip across.

  • Brian Black

    MV Tern is the sister ship of MV Swan, also operated by Dockwise, which transported the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Nottingham back to the UK after it was grounded and holed off Australia back in 2002.

  • Big-Rick

    This would be a perfect opportunity to showcase the awesome LCS and it’s amazing anti-mine capability. I think the good Adm is missing a great opportunity to showcase the amazing capabilities of the LCS. It could use some good press and all, after all it been so unfairly attacked for no good reason. Those stinky rotting moldy wooden old Avengers have no place on the modern net centric super fast world of modern warships like the LCS. I mean think about it, the Avenger class would be lucky to do 15 knots. My g o d man, those wooden pieces of crap have over 80 sailors on them, I guess they need that many because there is so much manual labor like scrubbing the deck and fun stuff on that. Heck the LCS crew doesn’t have to do any maintenance at all, they leave everything up to the shore rats, that leaves them more time to play with the fancy joysticks and to practice warrior skills and such……..(puke)

  • Lance

    Thats a very interesting ship that brings modular to a whole new level.

  • Kski

    I got to see those same ships just before they headed out.

  • yoyo

    Interesting - there was an old Lapwing-Class minesweeper christened USS Tern (actually two of ’em) that were decomissioned in 1945.

    To see Dockwise’s “Tern” check this:…

  • HEP-T

    I believe the USN did tow it’s non blue water capable ships into theater back in the old days.

  • Donald Chalfant

    Having spent a tour as XO on MSC 201 (66-68) , I can tell you they didn’t tow well. If you’re interested in the history of the US Navy’s involvement in mine warfare, contact the Naval Mine Warfare Associatin (NMA) to see about getting copies of back issues of quarterly magazines.

    My opinion of the LCS is that it will never be any force to be reckoned with. A bow mounted M-60 on a Boston Whaler with two 75 hp Mercs would be a more effective day to day weapon.

  • Retired Now

    I would prefer an American President who would bomb any country (their ships and harbors) if they mine ANY oceans/bay/sounds anywhere in the World. Mining is an unacceptable Act of War and USA and NATO should retaliate within 24 hours of any mining actions on this planet. Perhaps USA Jobs could advertize for such a leader to apply for the job of President of United States ?

    • TLAM Strike

      Then we should have declared war on Libya for the M/V Ghat incident?

    • joe

      Even if deployment of mines is considered an act of war (certainly deploying them outside your own waters is), you still have to clear said mines up. So regardless of your view, this is the right move.

      Also - I’m not impugning the LCS’ capability, but I’d rather deploy proven designs; LCS may have standoff mine hunting ability but if there is a mine deployment, it’s got to be cleared *damn* fast - four ships is more than the sum total of LCS hulls currently in the water…

      • blight_

        Surprised more effort isn’t put into USVs that can be launched from, say, a torpedo tube. Or a garbage chute. There were some blurbs only recently about USVs that could launch from either, but UAVs have been fleshed out for years and years.

        Perhaps the Navy thought it would just stand off and fire missiles and never need to come in close; just like the army never thought it would have to do city-fighting in the late ’90s?

  • Tim

    While they are out of the water, it might be time to give their hulls a good coat of paint. They look like they could use some periodic maintenance.

  • Raraavis

    Hopefully we will start charging a toll on all ships passing through the US protected straight because we certainly can’t afford to pay for this operation ourselves.

    • Raraavis

      US protected Strait (you know what I meant)

  • K0JMV

    As an old blue water sailor that survived a couple of storms and high seas, I was just wondering how these semi submersible cargo ships handle 30-40 foot seas? oops, we just lost an Avenger, oh well, we’ve got three more. Yes, get out the chippers and paint on the crossing and make sure everyone has a good life line and vest.

  • Snook

    I guess the crews don’t need the praactice at sea…. brown water navy???