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NORFOLK -- Three of five Merchant Marine ships being mobilized for duty in Haiti are from Hampton Roads.

The U.S. Maritime Administration announced Monday that MV Gopher State, MV Cornhusker State and SS Cape May will join OPDS Petersburg from California and M/V Huakai from Hawaii.

'Sending these ships will help those on the front line of this effort save as many lives in Haiti as possible,' Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said. 'These ships will add crucial capabilities by supporting operations to move large volumes of people and cargo.'

Acting Maritime Administrator David T. Matsuda added, 'These ships and skilled crews are ideally suited to assist in Haiti by providing unique capabilities. One cargo ship can carry as much as 400 fully loaded cargo planes.'

No time frame was given on their projected departure.

ABOUT THE SHIPS:

M/V Huakai is a new high-speed passenger and vehicle ferry capable of speeds of nearly 40 knots in the open ocean.
MV Gopher State is a TACS crane ship that can load and unload containers and other cargo in ports where facilities are badly damaged or nonexistent.
MV Cornhusker State is also a TACS crane ship
SS Cape May is a sea barge clipper class (SEABEE) vessel, so that its characteristic cargo is barges, as well as sections of causeway, and other materials used by the Construction Battalions (Seabees) of the U.S. Navy.
OPDS Petersburg is an Offshore Petroleum Discharge System tanker that's been modified to deliver petroleum products to military forces in areas where port facilities are damaged or non-existent.

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