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USNS Benavidez returns to Corpus Christi

CORPUS CHISTI, Texas (USTCNS) --- The U.S. Navy cargo ship named for Medal of Honor recipient and Texas native Master Sgt. Roy P. Benavidez, USA, returned home to Corpus Christi, Texas, June 16. The large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ship, or LMSR, can carry more than 300,000 square feet of military equipment -- everything from Humvees, tanks and tractors to containerized cargo and fleet hospitals.

Since her delivery to the Navy in September 2003, the 950-foot Benavidez has made 10 trips to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the global war on terrorism. The ship has transported 1.9 million square feet of combat cargo, enough to fill 33 football fields from end zone to end zone.

Operated by the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command, Benavidez will be kept pier side in Corpus Christi in reduced operating status with a cadre crew of 15 civilian mariners maintaining the ship’s operating systems. The crew will keep the ship ready to sail within four days if activated by the U.S. military.

The ship’s namesake, Roy Benavidez, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during the Vietnam War. After volunteering for a special forces reconnaissance team, the then Staff Sgt. Benavidez overcame fierce enemy fire and life-threatening injuries to ultimately save the lives of at least eight soldiers and recover classified documents before they could fall into enemy hands.

"Benavidez is a true hero for Texans and Americans everywhere. Everybody here in Corpus Christi knows his name, and I’m honored to work aboard a ship named after Benavidez," Capt. Tim McKenna, the ship's master. “It is a true privilege to be a part of his legacy and to help it live on."

MSC ships like USNS Benavidez have been the primary movers of U.S. military equipment for the global war on terrorism. Since Sept. 11, MSC has moved nearly 76.6 million square feet of combat cargo for deployed U.S. forces. That amount of cargo equals more than 800,000 SUVs that, if lined up end-to-end, would stretch from Corpus Christi to Seattle.

MSC operates more than 120 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships at sea, chart ocean bottoms, conduct undersea surveillance, preposition combat cargo at sea and move equipment and supplies for the U.S. military.

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