Maritime Prepositioning Ship [MPS]
The three ships of the TAK-3005 Waterman-class are operated by Waterman Steamship Corp. for Military Sealift Command. They are assigned to MSC Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron One, which is responsible for the operation, ship-board materials, and administrative support to non-combatant ships of the Military Sealift Command Prepositioning Program in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. These time-chartered ships carry afloat prepositioned US military cargo for the US Marine Corps and Air Force. These ships move from port to port in many allied nations of Europe 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, the various Marine Corps and Navy units work together to conduct an off-load.
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. The Waterman Class MPS has a gantry crane for moving containers from the ship to lighterage or a pier. This class has the best lift on/lift off (LOLO) capability.
The ship amenities include a full galley serving the finest food in the 6th Fleet, a weight room complete with sauna, CCTV, satellite TV and both crew and officer's lounges. As the flagship is very rarely pierside, launches are used to shuttle personnel ashore. All staff members serve one-year tours with the squadron; all tours are dependent-restricted unaccompanied duty. Normal working hours are from 0730-1530. A remote learning computer-based PACE II system is in operation to allow staff members to earn college level education credits through self-study.
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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