SS Cape Fear (Retention)
Cape Fear is a Lighter Aboard Ship (LASH) barge carrier, built for Prudential-Grace Lines in 1971 as the Lash Espana. The vessel was later operated by Farrell Lines as the Austral Lightning. LASH vessels were designed to act as mother ships for fleets of barges, which were offloaded, and loaded in riverine ports. The LASH concept was well suited to military cargo transport, particularly in littoral and underdeveloped geographic areas. The Maritime Administration purchased the Austral Lightning in May 1985 and renamed it Cape Fear. As a part of the Ready Reserve Force, the vessel participated in cargo operations during Operation DESERT STORM. It was downgraded to the National Defense Reserve Fleet in July 2006, where it is currently in emergency sealift status.