The USA’s Maritime Prepositioning Ships serve as vast, floating stocks of equipment, ammunition, and supplies that can be sailed into friendly ports to meet up with flown-in Marines. This critical but often-unrecognized force includes a combination of U.S. government-owned ships and chartered U.S.-flagged ships, and can also include ships activated from the Maritime Administration’s Ready Reserve Force. They are not crewed by US Navy personnel, but use U.S. civilian mariners (“CIVMARs”), who work for ship operating companies under contract to the federal government.
Most of MSC’s prepositioning ships are able to discharge cargo pierside, or use shallow-draft barges (lighterage), that are carried aboard in case ports are non-existent or in poor condition. In May 2010, US Military Sealift Command completed one of the largest contracts in its history…
May 27/10: US MSC signs contracts that could be worth over $1 billion, involving the operation and maintenance of 11 government-owned Maritime Prepositioning Force ships for over 5 years each. A set of 4 contracts awarded to Maersk Line, Ltd. will cover 10 of the ships, while the 11th is covered by a small business set-aside contract that will be awarded at a later date. Each contract has a base period that lasts to Sept 30/10, and up to 5 one-year options would extend the contracts to Sept 30/15 if exercised. The contract also includes reimbursement clauses for certain kinds of expenses.
Ships covered include various types, from older MPS ships, to LMSR Roll-on/Roll-offs originally built for Army use, to the newest MPF-E CON/RO container ships with roll-on, roll-off capability:
- USNS 2nd Lt John P. Bobo
- USNS Sgt William R. Button
- USNS Sgt Matej Kocak
- USNS 1st Lt Baldomero Lopez
- USNS 1st Lt Jack Lummus
- USNS PFC Eugene A. Obregon
- USNS Maj Stephen W. Pless
- USNS Sisler
- USNS GYSgt Fred W. Stockham
- USNS LCpl Roy M. Wheat
- USNS PFC DeWayne T. Williams
The contract to be awarded at a later date is for the operation and maintenance of Maritime Prepositioning Ship USNS 1st Lt Harry L. Martin. That was a small-business et-aside, so additional notifications are needed.
All 11 ships are deployed to strategic locations worldwide, and MSC operates approximately 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world, move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces, conduct specialized missions, and replenish U.S. Navy ships at sea. Overall, the MSC operates 31 prepositioning ships for the US military. US MSC.