Maritime Prepositioning Squadron 2
As part of the Navy's strategic sealift capability, Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron Two is responsible for the operation and administrative support to non-combatant ships of the Military Sealift Command Prepositioning Program in the Indian Ocean. These time-chartered ships carry afloat prepositioned U.S. military cargo for the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and the Defense Logistics Agency. The squadron's mission is to provide swift and effective sea transportation of vital equipment and supplies to a designated area of operations.
MPSRON Two is a component of the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command, administratively reporting to the Prepositioning Program Manager at MSC Headquarters in Washington, D.C. MPSRON Two is an operational asset of the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet. The squadron's operational director is the MSC, Far East area commander located in Yokohama, Japan.
MPSRON Two is an afloat staff of 25 military personnel and three civilians under the command of a U.S. Navy captain. The staff is embarked on one of the squadron's five Maritime Prepositioning Ships. Apart from the squadron staff, there is a about 150 permanently assigned civilian and military personnel aboard the five ships. Nearly 100 additional personnel can come aboard each ship when conducting a Maritime Prepositioning Force operation. Staff members serve one-year tours in a continuously underway, forward-deployed status. The MPSRON Two ships operate out of Diego Garcia without a permanent homeport in that area.
The ships that are a regular part of MPSRON Two are MV Pfc. William B. Baugh, MV Cpl. Louis J. Hauge Jr., MV 1st Lt. Alex Bonnyman, MV Pvt. Franklin J. Phillips and MV Pfc. James Anderson Jr. MPSRON Two also currently has operational control of four Combat Prepositioning Force ships and five Logistics Prepositioning Ships. Combat Prepositioning Force, or CPF, ships provide quick-response delivery of U.S. Army equipment for ground troops. Logistics Prepositioning Ships do the same for the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy and the Defense Logistics Agency. On a routine basis, MPSRON Two assumes or relinquishes operational control of these ships to its sister MPS squadrons to ensure that the correct mix of ships are available around the world. At any time, one or all of MPSRON Two's assigned CPF or Logistics Prepositioning Ships may be deployed to missions around the globe. Currently, SS Green Harbour, MV Jeb Stuart, MV American Cormorant, MV Buffalo Soldier, MV Bernard F. Fisher, SS Potomac and USNS Henry J. Kaiser operate under MPSRON Two.
The RRF vessel SS Chesapeake activated in 2000 and replaced SS Potomac in Diego Garcia. SS Chesapeake is one of Military Sealift Command's thirteen Common User Tankers and one of the 90 RRF ships in the Sealift Program Office (PM5).
The MPSRON Two ships move from port to port in many allied nations of Asia and the Middle East throughout the year, rarely traveling together. The ships themselves and the squadron staff form only part of the team needed to deploy cargo. Periodically, through real-world operations and exercises, various Marine Corps and Navy units work together to conduct an off-load. The MPSRON Two staff's main job is to maintain command and control as well as keep the MPS vessels and their cargo ready at all times until an order to deploy is given. On 24-hours notice, every MPSRON Two ship can leave port and sail literally anywhere in the world and bring combat support and equipment the Marines, Navy, Army and Air Force need to accomplish their missions.
The Near Term Prepositioning Force (NTPF) was established in April 1980 as an interim means of providing strategic sealift access in the Indian Ocean for the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (now USCINCCENT). Military Sealift Command formed the NTPF with seven ships. MSC chartered the SS Illinois and SS Lipscomb Lykes and renamed these State-class Roll-on/Roll-off ships USNS Mercury and Jupiter. Along with USNS Meteor, they supported the equipment of the 7th Marine Amphibious Brigade. MSC extended charters for SS American Champion and SS American Courier with United States Lines to transport Air Force and Army ammunition, medical supplies, and other material. The tanker USNS Sealift Pacific carried fuel, and MV Patriot was chartered to carry potable water. In July 1980 the ships sailed from Wilmington, NC for Diego Garcia, under the command of MSC Office Indian Ocean, redesignated in 1983 Prepositioning Group One.
The composition and capability of the NTPF underwent major changes from 1981 to 1983 and grew to 17 ships. The two initial LASHs [Lighter Aboard Ship], SS Austral Lightning and Austral Rainbow of Farrell Lines, loaded Army munitions. From 1984 to 1986, the newly renamed Afloat Prepositioning Force (APF) added Maritime Prepositioning Ships (MPS). By November 1985, the five original Marine Corps-sponsored [of the 17 total PREPO ships of MPS Squadron Two] were relieved by five newly converted Maritime Prepositioning Ships (MPS). At the end of 1985, both MPS and PREPO ships were designated as part of the Afloat Prepositioning Force (APF). On November 2, 1985, MSC PREPOGRU ONE was officially disestablished and its duties assumed by MPS Squadron Two (COMPSRON TWO).
As of 1992 the five MPS and nine PREPO ships in Diego Garcia were under the operational control of CTU 73.7.2 (COMPSRON TWO). CTU 73.7.1 (COMSCSEA) had operational control of two PREPO tankers in Subic Bay, RP; and CTG 63.8 (COMSCMED) had operational control of one PREPO freighter in the Mediterranean. All APF ships are integrated into the numbered fleet organization. The MPSRON TWO ships continued frequent convoy exercises and have combined these exercises with battle group exercises conducted within the geographic area. This integration provided valuable training for Naval reservists participating in Naval Control of Shipping training as part of Rainbow Reef exercises.
Ships assigned to the APF at Diego Garcia are under the operational control of Commander, Task Unit Seven Three Point Seven Point Two (CTU 73.7.2), whose administrative title is COMPSRON TWO. CTU 73.7.2 reports to Commander, Task Group Seven Three Point Seven (CTG 73.7) for operational matters. CTG 73.7 is administratively titled Commander, Military Sealift Command, Far East (COMSCFE). For all matters that are the responsibility of a type commander, COMPSRON TWO reports via COMSCFE, located in Yokohama, JA, to Commander, Military Sealift Command (COMSC). In addition, COMPSRON TWO interfaces with Commander, Military Sealift Command, Pacific (COMSCPAC) and Commander, Military Sealift Command, Atlantic (COMSCLANT) for crew repatriation and civil service mariner manning matters.
COMPSRON TWO/CTU 73.7.2 is a Navy Captain whose naval and civilian staff is embarked on a command-configured MPS flagship. COMPSRON TWO is responsible for exercising tactical control and providing logistic support to ensure that the ships and staff are maintained in an optimum state of operational readiness and fully capable of responding to contingencies. b. Ships in the APF are manned by civilian mariner crews (employees of ship's operators). COMPSRON TWO serves as MSC Contracting Officer in order to authorize ships' Masters to perform certain actions specified in their contracts.
Ships of MPSRON TWO can expect to be underway approximately 25 percent of the time. Underway operations are directed by CTU 73.7.2 (COMPSRON TWO) by sailing orders (SAILORD) or weekly operation schedules (OPSKED). Underway periods include independent operations as well as convoys (formation maneuvering) during at least one 3- to 5-day period per month.
Since its inception, the squadron has operated in support of operations Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf, Restore Hope in Somalia and Support Hope in Kenya/Rwanda, as well as other numerous exercises and operations. MPSRON Two generally participates in one major Maritime Prepositioning Force exercise per year.
The first three ships of MPS Squadron TWO raced from their Diego Garcia homeport to reach Saudi Arabia 15 August 1990, marking the first use of the MPS in an actual crisis. Within four days of their arrival in the port of Jubail, Navy cargo handlers averaging 100 lift-hours per day offloaded more equipment and supplies from the three 755-foot ships than could have been moved by 3,000 C-141 cargo flights. The 16,500 Marines of the 7th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), a component of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), arrived via the Military Airlift Command. They "married-up" with the MPS equipment and were ready for combat on 25 August-- the first heavy ground combat capability in-theater. The five ships of MPS Squadron TWO brought the essentials to support the 7th MEB Marines for 30 days of combat-- food, water, fuel, millions of pounds of ammunition for aircraft, artillery and small arms, construction materials and medical supplies.
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