USS Flint (AR-32 / T-AE-32)
Resupply Ship / Cargo Vessel
Vessels such as the USS Flint are often overlooked for their value - charged with resupply of at-sea warships on active duty.
Authored By: JR Potts, AUS 173d AB | Last Edited:
The USS FLINT (AE-32), a Kilauea-class ammunition/cargo replenishment ship, was commissioned on November 20, 1971. She was the last of her class of eight and decommissioned in 1995 from the US Navy and immediately transferred to Military Sealift Command as T-AE-32. In this fashion, the USS Flint continues to serve with a civilian crew under Navy command while being charged with passing ammunition to fleet warships as needed. As far back as 1888, US Navy authorities began to show an interest in logistics and it was Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan who introduced the term and concept of resupply during a Naval War College presentation. Historically, need for replenishment began as soon as men and ships went to sea and the importance of naval logistics still plays a vital role in the operation of naval forces today.
The supply and replenishment of ships at sea had proven elusive for thousands of years. Despite it being a regular component of modern navies, it remains a dangerous and difficult work in progress. In 1803 The British Fleet was comprised of 871 vessels using 177 transport ships to which many of these were assigned to resupply. General provisions and war supplies were stockpiled at naval dockyards at the home port of ships as well as across foreign bases being supplied by transports. At times when sea conditions were right the transport ship could meet up at sea with warships to restock munitions, goods, food and water. During calm seas the transport and the warship needing resupply would simply come alongside one another, tied together for the process. Gang planks were set between the two vessels and supplies handed across or loaded onto cargo nets then hoisted by block-and-tackle.