Wednesday 6 August 2014


"Roll On, or Roll Off, Rolling on the River". Sorry CCR for botching up your great classic rock song "Proud Mary", but when I saw these two huge grey ladies parked side-by-side along the wide Mississippi River in New Orleans last May, I first thought, "Ooo-Ooo, Navy Ships, my favourite" and knew we had to get ourselves on the paddle-wheeler NATCHEZ (shown in this top snap) to check these girls out while we were "Rolling on the River".
But as we got closer, I could see that they weren't really navy oilers as anticipated, but instead two Roll On/Roll Off vehicle carriers, the CAPE KENNEDY (T-AKR-5083) and CAPE KNOX (T-AKR-5082) which both are operated by the US Navy's Sealift Command. Just like the snap shows as we approached them downriver, they are virtually twin sisters. They are both 696' long by 106' wide with a draft of 35' and have a top speed is 16.6 knots. They were also built at the same shipyard in Japan for Nedlloyd Lijnen of the Netherlands. The CAPE KENNEDY was launched as the NEDLLOYD ROSAIRIO in 1979 while CAPE KNOX was launched as the NEDLLOYD ROUEN a year earlier. In 1995 both vessels were purchased by the US Maritime Administration and placed on the National Defence Ready Reserve Fleet (RRF) and managed by Keystone Shipping in New Orleans. Currently there are 44 ships in the Ready Reserve Fleet docked in various ports along America's coastline, and 27 of the ships are RO/RO vehicle carriers.

Both CAPE KENNEDY and CAPE KNOX have side and stern ramps (the KNOX's stern ramp is lowered to the dock in my snap to the left) which enables wheeled cargoes to be driven on or off for loading and discharging much faster than conventional ships. Each also have 155,000 square feet of deck space on three cargo decks connected with ramps to move all sorts of military vehicles and aircraft. On their open deck, they can carry 1,550 containers or oversized military cargoes. Manned with a civilian crew, RRF ships take only 5 days to be activated and provide prompt sealift support in any event that they are needed which may also include peacekeeping or humanitarian response missions like during the aftermath of Haiti earthquakes.
Meanwhile, it's lay and wait time in the "Big Easy" for the sisters CAPE KENNEDY and CAPE KNOX until a need arises and so that they too will be "Rolling on the River" and showing their worth once again. c);-b 


  1. THE run easy 19,5 knots...... I know because I did on both of them in Nedlloyd colours.

    1. Not surprised to hear that. They are beautiful ships. Thanks Henk c):-))