Afloat Prepositioning Ship Squadron FOUR
These Navy-owned vessels preposition U.S. military cargo at sea for the U.S. Army. Afloat Prepositioning Ship Squadron FOUR is responsible for the operation and administrative support to non-combatant ships of the Military Sealift Command Afloat Prepositioning Program in the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean. The squadron's mission is to provide swift and effective sea transportation of vital equipment and supplies to a designated area of operations.
APS Squadron Four remains a distinct and separate staff reporting to and fully coordinating with Senior Officer Present Afloat, MPS Squadron Two, while in Diego Garcia. The two staffs work together, but are not merged.
APSRON FOUR is an afloat staff of thirteen military personnel under the command of a U.S. Navy Captain. The staff is embarked on The USNS RED CLOUD one of the squadron's Afloat Prepositioning Ships. More than 400 additional personnel can embark the ships when conducting an Afloat Prepositioning Force operation. Staff members serve one-year tours in a continuously underway, forward-deployed status. The APSRON FOUR ships operate in the Arabian Gulf/Indian Ocean area without a permanent homeport in that area. The APSRON FOUR staff is generally located on Diego Garcia, an island in the central Indian Ocean. The Combat Prepositioning Force includes six large, medium speed, roll-on/roll-off (LMSR) vessels sited in the Arabian Gulf at Manama, Bahrain. Four of these vessels contain combat equipment, while the rest are loaded with support/sustainment vehicles and cargo.
The ships that are a regular part of APSRON FOUR are USNS BOB HOPE (T-AKR 300), USNS WATSON (T-AKR 310), USNS SISLER (T-AKR 311), USNS RED CLOUD (T-AKR 313) and USNS CHARLTON (T-AKR 314). All ships are new construction LMSRs. 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 Army and Navy units work together to conduct an off-load.
The APSRON FOUR staff's main job is to maintain command and control as well as keep the APS vessels and their cargo ready at all times until an order to deploy is given. On 24-hours notice, every ship can leave port and sail literally anywhere in the world -- transporting combat support and equipment the Army needs to accomplish its missions.
Since its establishment in 1998, the squadron has operated in support of Operations Southern Watch and Desert Fox, as well as other numerous exercises. APSRON Four is a component of the U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command, administratively reporting to the Prepositioning Program Manager at MSC Headquarters in Washington, D.C. APSRON FOUR is an operational asset of the U.S. Third Army.
During 2000 and 2001 two more LMSRs joined the Combat Prepositioning Force. On Jan. 18, 2000, a Watson-class LMSR, USNS Red Cloud, was delivered to MSC. Red Cloud loaded in Charleston June 19-30 and deployed to Diego Garcia July 2. A second Watson-class LMSR, USNS Charlton, delivered to MSC in May 2000, but was not scheduled for load-out and deployment until FY 2001.
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