Maritime Prepositioning Ship [MPS]
The five ships of the TAK-3000 Maersk-class are operated by Maersk Line Ltd. for Military Sealift Command. Each ship carries a full range of Marine Corps cargo, enough cargo to support a Marine Air Ground Task Force for 30 days. Each ship has lift-on/lift-off capabilities, as well as roll-on/roll-off capabilities. Navy lighterage carried onboard consists of causeways, both powered and unpowered, and small boats to move them around. They are certified to land up to CH-53E helicopters. Baugh also has breakbulk cargo capacity, which is used for carrying general cargo. The ships are prepositioned in Diego Garcia.
All cargo holds and vehicle storage areas are humidity and temperature controlled. This maintains the quality of supplies and limits damage to vehicles, weapons, etc. The water tight integrity, dewatering, and fire fighting capabilities of the MPS are inferior to US Navy ships. All MPS have cranes capable of placing cargo and containers onto lighterage or a pier. The ships can also embark and debark their own lighterage. These consist of mechanized landing craft (LCM), side loadable warping tugs (SLWT), causeway section powered (CSP), causeway section non-powered (CSNP), and fuel and water hose reels. A Roll on/Roll off Discharge Facility (RRDF) can be placed at either the stern ramp or side ports. This facility can discharge either to lighterage or a pier. Determination to establish the RRDF is dependent on sea state conditions, total number of ships requiring offload, ship-to-shore distance, and force/capability stand-up time considerations.
Thirteen MSC prepositioning ships are specially configured to transport supplies for the US Marine Corps. Known as the Maritime Prepositioning Force, the 13 ships were built or modified in the mid-1980s and are on location in the western Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The 13 Maritime Prepositioning Ships, or MPS, contain nearly everything the Marines need for initial military operations -- from tanks and ammunition to food and fuel to spare parts and engine oil.
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.
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.
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