Fourteen MSC prepositioning ships are especially configured to transport supplies for the U.S. Marine Corps.
Known as the Maritime Prepositioning Force, the ships were built or modified beginning in the mid-1980s and are on location in the western Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The 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 five 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 in their geographic operating areas.
Each MPS squadron carries sufficient equipment and supplies to sustain up to 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.
In 2000, an additional Maritime Prepositioning Force vessel was added to MPS Squadron One. Unlike the current MPS -- which are all under long-term charters -- the Maritime Prepositioning Force (Enhanced) ships, or MPF(E), is a U.S. government-owned vessel crewed by contractor-employed mariners. Two additional MPF(E) ships will be added to the Maritime Prepositioning Ships, one each to Squadrons Two and Three, within the next two years.