Prepositioning Program - PM3
Afloat Prepositioning Force - PM3
The successful deployment of US military forces depends on the ability to act quickly. In a world of ongoing regional instability where hostilities can break out at any time, prepositioning ships provide a clear savings in time and distance. The Prepositioning Program has 36 strategically-located ships laden with military equipment and supplies for the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.
- Thirteen MSC ships comprise the Combat Prepositioning Force, or CPF, component of the MSC Prepositioning Program. The ships carry enough equipment, food, water and other supplies to support elements of two Army heavy divisions--up to 34,000 personnel--for up to 30 days. CPF ships are prepositioned near Diego Garcia, near Guam and in the Arabian Gulf.
- Fourteen MSC prepositioning ships are specifically designed for transporting U.S. Marine Corps supplies and equipment. Known as the Maritime Prepositioning Ships, they are divided into three squadrons. Each squadron can carry everything needed to provide 30 days' support for a Marine Corps Expeditionary Brigade of 17,300 Marine Corps Air Ground Task Force personnel.
- Seven other vessels comprise the final major component of the MSC Prepositioning Program. The Logistics Prepositioning Ships contain equipment to support Air Force combat, a Navy field hospital and U.S. military fuel requirements. These remaining prepositioning ships are assigned to the three Maritime Prepositioning Ship squadrons.
- In addition to its fully activated, at-sea ships, the MSC Prepositioning Program oversees two aviation maintenance logistics ships, SS Curtiss and SS Wright. These ships provide mobile maintenance facilities for Marine Corps aircraft. Both Curtiss and Wright are maintained in a reduced operating status and can be fully activated in five days.
Maritime Prepositioning Ships (MPS) are specially constructed or specially modified ships for the purpose of prepositioning equipment to support three Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEFs) for contingency operations. Several of the ships were constructed or modified on a build and charter basis. One ship at a time is scheduled for return to the United States on a thirty month cycle to offload all equipment, ammunition, and stores for upkeep, repair, modification, and replacement as necessary. The ship is also provided a 45 day upkeep period in a shipyard. The cost of this unique maintenance operation is included in the operating and support costs for these ships.
The MPS are organized into three squadrons, each commanded by a Navy captain. MPS Squadron One, usually located in the Atlantic Ocean or Mediterranean Sea, has four ships; MPS Squadron Two, usually located at Diego Garcia, has five ships; and MPS Squadron Three, normally in the Guam/Saipan area, has four ships. In addition to Marine Corps designated ships, MPS squadron staffs also oversee all other prepositioning ships (Army and Air Force) in their geographic operating areas.
Each MPS squadron carries sufficient equipment and supplies to sustain 17,000 Marine Corps Air Ground Task Force personnel for up to 30 days. Each ship can discharge cargo either pierside or while anchored offshore using lighterage carried aboard. This capability gives the Marine Corps the ability to operate in both developed and underdeveloped areas of the world.
Prepositioning (PREPO) Ships serve the same basic purpose as the MPS, but they carry more generalized cargo, such as bulk stores and fuel to meet reinforcement requirements, rather than specific warfighting equipment. The ships' operation is contracted with private shipping companies, so there currently is very little visibility of costs, other than total contract costs. The individual ships in the group may change over time as contracts expire. This may cause an increase in the number of ships reported in some years as both the expiring contract ship and the replacement contract ship may be reported for the fiscal year.
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