Click here to view the Prepositioning Program Video.
|The distinctive stack stripes on prepositioning ship USNS Lance Cpl. Roy M. Wheat instantly identify it as part of MSCís fleet.|
Military Sealift Command's Prepositioning Program is an essential element in the U.S. military's readiness strategy. Afloat prepositioning strategically places military equipment and supplies aboard ships located in key ocean areas to ensure rapid availability during a major theater war, a humanitarian operation or other contingency. MSC's 25 prepositioning ships support the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Defense Logistics Agency.
Prepositioning ships provide quick and efficient movement of military gear between operating areas without reliance on other nations' transportation networks. These ships give U.S. regional combatant commanders the assurance that they will have what they need to quickly respond in a crisis - anywhere, anytime. During a contingency, troops are flown into a theater of operations to rapidly employ the cargo from these ships.
Many of MSC's prepositioning ships are able to discharge liquid, containerized or motorized cargo both pierside or while anchored offshore by using floating hoses and shallow-draft watercraft, called lighterage, that are carried aboard. This allows cargo to be ferried to shore in areas where ports are non-existent or in poor condition and gives the nation's military forces the ability to operate in both developed and undeveloped areas of the world.
Prepositioning ships include a combination of U.S. government-owned ships, chartered U.S.- flagged ships and ships activated from the Maritime Administration's Ready Reserve Force. All prepositioning ships are crewed by U.S. civilian mariners who work for ship operating companies under contract to the federal government.
While most active ships in MSC's Prepositioning Program strategically place combat gear at sea, there are other ships, including:
- Two high-speed vessels - one that transports Marines, their combat vehicles and their associated gear in and around the Far East; and a second that serves as a platform for a variety of missions worldwide.
- A chartered offshore petroleum distribution system ship that can deliver fuel from up to eight miles offshore; and
- Two aviation logistics support ships that are activated as needed from reduced operating status to provide at-sea maintenance for Marine Corps fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.
|MSC Maritime Prepositioning Ship USNS 1st Lt. Baldomero Lopez is part of Maritime Prepositioning Squadron Two, which operates out of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.|
Prepositioning Ships For All U.S. Forces
|Maritime Prepositioning Ships are crewed by U.S. merchant mariners who work for private ship operating companies under contract to MSC.|
Maritime Prepositioning Force Ships
Eleven Maritime Prepositioning Force, or MPF, ships strategically position supplies for the U.S. Marine Corps at sea. The ships are laden with a variety of Marine Corps equipment and supplies, including tanks, ammunition, food, water, cargo, hospital equipment, petroleum products and spare parts - ready for rapid delivery ashore when needed.
The MPF has its origins with 13 Maritime Prepositioning Ships, or MPS, specially configured for the Marine Corps and delivered to MSC in the mid-1980s. Since then, ships with new operational capabilities have been delivered to give warfighters increased flexibility and speed in delivering prepositioning cargo from offshore, when and where it is needed. Today's MPF ships comprise a combination of some of the original MPS; three MPF (Enhanced) ships that were added beginning in 2000; plus other newly built ships.
The MPF ships are organized into three Maritime Prepositioning Ship squadrons, each comprising four to six Maritime Prepositioning Force ships as well as additional prepositioning ships dedicated to other military services. Each MPS squadron carries sufficient equipment and supplies to sustain more than 16,000 Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Navy personnel for up to 30 days.
|MV Staff Sgt. Edward A. Carter Jr., is an MSC-chartered container ship dedicated to prepositioning Army supplies at sea.|
Army Prepositioned Stocks-3 Ships
MSC's 5 Army Prepositioned Stocks-3 ships strategically place U.S. Army combat equipment at sea to supply and sustain deployed U.S. troops during national crises. Three of the APS-3 ships are mammoth, government-owned cargo ships, called large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships, or LMSRs. Each ship has a cargo-carrying capacity of more than 300,000 square feet.
|MSCís USNS Soderman, a large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ship used for prepositioning U.S. Army combat equipment at sea, has a slewing stern ramp for rapid loading and off-loading of wheeled and tracked vehicles.|
LMSRs are ideal for rapid loading and off-loading of Army wheeled and tracked vehicles, as well as other outsized Army equipment. A series of internal and external ramps makes this possible, and huge shipboard cranes allow cargo to be lifted without relying on local port infrastructure. In addition to LMSRs, APS-3 ships include two container ships that store ammunition at sea for the Army.
Navy, Defense Logistics Agency And Air Force Ships
The most diverse subset of MSC's prepositioning ships is called Navy, Defense Logistics Agency and Air Force ships, or NDAF. These six ships operate around the world in support of the Department of Defense services and agencies contained in the name, as well as the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army.
|MSC-chartered prepositioning ship MV Capt. Steven L. Bennett has climate-controlled cocoons on its deck to protect the U.S. Air Force munitions carried aboard.|
NDAF ships provide support for:
- The Navy; One high-speed vessel provides a platform for a variety of missions worldwide.
- The Air Force; One long-term chartered container ships preposition munitions.
- The Defense Logistics Agency; A chartered offshore petroleum distribution system ship, capable of transferring fuel from ship to shore, keeps deployed U.S. warfighters supplied with fuel.
- The Marine Corps; Two aviation logistics support ships can be activated from the Ready Reserve Force to maintain and repair forward-deployed, rotary-wing aircraft at sea. One high-speed vessel supports the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force transporting cargo and military personnel between Okinawa, Japan, and other ports in the Far East. A chartered offshore petroleum distribution system ship delivers fuel from offshore to support Marines ashore.
- The Army; the same OPDS ship that supports Marines ashore also supports Army ground forces.
Most MSC prepositioning ships are strategically located in two geographic areas and assigned to one of two Maritime Prepositioning Ship squadrons:
MSC's two aviation logistics support ships and some of the LMSRs are kept in reduced operating status and berthed in the U.S.
|A light amphibious recovery craft, or LARC, travels up the stern ramp of an underway MSC Maritime Prepositioning Ship. The LARC, working in conjunction with prepositioning ships, transported water from island to island in the Maldives following the devastation caused by a tsunami.|
Afloat Prepositioning: Rapid Response For U.S. War Fighters
For nearly three decades, MSC's prepositioning ships have been key to the combat readiness of the nation's armed forces.
The high-volume, cargo-carrying capacities of MSC's prepositioning ships have enabled rapid deliveries of combat-ready U.S. supplies and equipment, including out-sized vehicles, to overseas areas in crisis. These urgently needed deliveries could not have occurred as quickly, efficiently or cost effectively by any other means.
Prepositioning ships have been powerful first-responders, playing a series of decisive roles in support to the nation's combat forces. These ships delivered the first sizable amounts of armored equipment to deployed U.S. forces during both the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia from 1992 to 1993. Later, the ships demonstrated their value again as they provided extensive support for Operation Enduring Freedom beginning in 2001 and Operation Iraqi Freedom beginning in 2003. In 2010, MSC prepositioning ships were among the first vessels to arrive off the coast of Port-au-Prince, Haiti carrying humanitarian supplies for the international earthquake relief effort.
Today, afloat prepositioning continues to give deployed U.S. war fighters an edge, ensuring fast delivery ashore of the earliest arriving equipment and supplies.
As the global war on terrorism continues, MSC's prepositioning ships are an essential ingredient in the nation's defense. U.S. forces can remain confident that in times of national crisis, MSC prepositioning ships deliver.
Go to the Prepositioning Program ship inventory