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USNS Red Cloud (T-AKR 313)

- Military Sealift Command -

no coat of arms

USNS RED CLOUD is the fourth WATSON - class large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ship (LMSR) and homeported in Diego Garcia. One previous ship (YT 268) (1943- 1986) was named RED CLOUD in honor of an American Indian chief (1822-1909).

General Characteristics:Awarded: January 30, 1996
Keel laid: June 29, 1998
Launched: August 7, 1999
Delivered: January 18, 2000
Builder: National Steel and Shipbuilding, San Diego, CA
Propulsion system: two GE Marine LM gas turbines
Propellers: two
Length: 951.4 feet (290 meters)
Beam: 106 feet (32.3 meters)
Draft: 34.1 feet (10.4 meters)
Displacement: approx. 62,970 tons full load
Speed: 24 knots
Aircraft: helicopter landing area only
Armament: none
Capacity: 393,000 sq. ft. (more than 900 vehicles including tanks and trucks)
Crew: 26 civilian crew (up to 45); up to 50 active duty
Homeport: Diego Garcia

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Crew List:

This section contains the names of sailors who served aboard USNS RED CLOUD. It is no official listing but contains the names of sailors who submitted their information.

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About the Ship's Name:

The ship is named RED CLOUD in honor of Army Cpl. Mitchell Red Cloud Jr. (1925-1950), a native of Hatfield, Wis. Cpl. Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr. enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1941 and was honorably discharged in 1945. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1948 and was sent to Korea in 1950. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions during the defense of a ridge in front of his company command post in Korea, Nov. 5, 1950. As the first to detect the approach of enemy forces, Red Cloud gave the alarm and initiated action as the enemy charged from an area less than a hundred feet away. This action allowed his company to organize a defense. He maintained his position despite being severely wounded. He wrapped his arm around a tree to allow him to continue firing upon the enemy until mortally wounded. His heroic actions prevented his company from being overrun.


Cpl. Red Cloud, Company E, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. From his position on the point of a ridge immediately in front of the company command post he was the first to detect the approach of the Chinese Communist forces and give the alarm as the enemy charged from a brush-covered area less than 100 feet from him. Springing up he delivered devastating pointblank automatic rifle fire into the advancing enemy. His accurate and intense fire checked this assault and gained time for the company to consolidate its defense. With utter fearlessness he maintained his firing position until severely wounded by enemy fire. Refusing assistance he pulled himself to his feet and wrapping his arm around a tree continued his deadly fire again, until he was fatally wounded. This heroic act stopped the enemy from overrunning his company's position and gained time for reorganization and evacuation of the wounded. Cpl. Red Cloud's dauntless courage and gallant self-sacrifice reflects the highest credit upon himself and upholds the esteemed traditions of the U.S. Army. for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in Chonghyon, Korea, 5 November 1950.

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The photos below were contributed by Stefan Karpinski and were taken by him and the helo detachment of the German frigate MECKLENBURG-VORPOMMERN (F 218). They show the RED CLOUD being escorted through Bab El Mandeb by the MECKLENBURG-VORPOMMERN during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2003.

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