PATRIOT CONTRACT SERVICES WANTS MSC/MAERSK CONTRACT RE-EVALUATED
Patriot Contract Services has asked the U.S. General Accounting Office to direct the Military Sealift Command to terminate a five-year $400 million, eight-vessel operations contract with Maersk Line Ltd.
The Military Sealift Command contract, awarded earlier this month, calls for Maersk Line Ltd. to operate and maintain eight large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships in the Indian Ocean near Diego Garcia.
Patriot Contract Services believes the Military Sealift Command’s LMSR operations contract process should be re-evaluated. The company also wants to be awarded the costs of pursuing this protest as appropriate.
Patriot Contract Services is part of the Patriot Group, which was formed in 1997. The Patriot Group also includes American Ship Management, a commercial ship operating firm. Patriot manages all U.S.-flag vessels owned by APL and manages the ocean carrier’s government contracts.
The Military Sealift Command is the ocean transportation provider to the Defense Department. The agency’s prepositioning program has 35 strategically located ships laden with military equipment, supplies and fuel for the Army. Fifteen ships carry combat equipment and sustaining supplies for the Army, enough to sustain two Army heavy brigades — up to 8,000 personnel — for up to 30 days.
The eight LMSRs in the contract with Maersk Line Ltd. are the “USNS Watson,” “USNS Watkin,” “USNS Red Cloud,” “USNS Sisler,” “USNS Soderman,” “USNS Charlton,” “USNS Dahl,” and “USNS Pomeroy.” These ships carry 33 percent of the Army’s prepositioning equipment.
Prior to the new contract, Maersk Line Ltd. operated the military’s LMSRs when they started to enter service in October 1997. The company operated seven LMSRs by 2001. The eighth LMSR, the “USNS Soderman,” joined the MSC fleet in the fall of 2001.
The attorneys for Patriot Contract Services said the Military Sealift Command’s evaluation and award of the contract to Maersk Line Ltd. was “seriously flawed.” “PCS is an experienced operator of LMSR ships and also offers substantial additional military and commercial experience in ship operation and maintenance,” the attorneys said in a filing to GAO.
The attorneys also pointed our that their client’s offer was millions of dollars less than Maersk Line Ltd.’s offer.
“(A)t the (contract offer) debriefing, MSC justified the lower rating by listing a number of alleged flaws in PCS’s proposal that were never identified adequately during discussions,” the attorneys said. “The failure to identify these issues was particularly significant because MSC’s ‘concerns’ could have easily been resolved with additional information or, in some cases, simply by reformating aspects of the proposal.”
An MSC spokesman acknowledged receiving a copy of the Patriot Contract Services protest, but would not comment.
Keystone Shipping Co., another firm that unsuccessfully bid to operate the LMSRs, may also protest the Military Sealift Command’s contract award to Maersk Line Ltd. after its debriefing.