This U.S. Navy Ship Was Actually Built by the Soviet Union

This U.S. Navy Ship Was Actually Built by the Soviet Union

The U.S. Navy’s Maritime Sealift Command sails a number of odd-looking ships, but just one has the unusual background of having been built in the former Soviet Union. The USNS Lance Cpl. Roy M. Wheat, a cargo ship designed to carry supplies for the Marine Corps, was built in the former soviet republic of Ukraine and bought on the open market by the U.S. Navy. Nearly as large as an aircraft carrier, Wheat and her sister ships sit packed with Marine Corps equipment in the Mediterranean, waiting for the day they are needed.

The Military Sealift Command is a navy within a navy, a fleet of unmanned, non-combat ships staffed by civilians. MSC ships undertake a variety of roles, including refueling and resupplying U.S. Navy warships at sea, oceanographic survey, submarine maintenance, and even supporting missile tests at sea. One of the most unusual MSC ships is the Sea-Based X-Band Radar or the “floating golf ball,” a giant radar designed to detect ballistic missile launches.

The ship with the weirdest pedigree, as Forbes points out, is the USNS Lance Cpl. Roy M. Wheat. The Wheat was built at the Chernomorski naval yard in Nikolayev, the same location Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, was built. Named the Vladimir Vaslyaev, she was operated by the Black Sea Shipping Company until the Soviet Union’s dissolution in late 1991.

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