United States of America
- Joint High Speed Vessel
- Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-on/roll-off
- Logistic Support Vessel
- Mobile Landing Platform
- Maritime Preposition Force
- Military Sealift Command
- United States Naval Ship
The Navy began conducting at-sea experiments off the coast of Virginia near
Norfolk for the Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) Program (MPF(F)) in
August and was completed October 13.
The Navy's overall objective was to continue learning about how to ensure that
vehicles, stores and personnel can routinely and safely be transferred between
ships at sea. In the future, transfer at sea will allow the rapid and selective
offload of prepositioned ships, followed by delivery of the forces and equipment
to shore via connector craft.
"The demonstration has provided essential information that will help mitigate
the technical risk for MPF(F) squadron acquisition," said Capt. Patricia Sudol,
program manager for Support Ships, Boats and Craft (PMS 325) within the Program
Executive Office Ships. "MPF(F) is a key enabler of sea basing, and will
flexibly support the projection of up to a brigade-sized force and continuously
sustain them from the sea. We learned a great deal during this exercise, and we
greatly appreciate all the hard work put in by the individuals and
organizations, which helped to facilitate this event."
The effort is headed by PMS 325 and was supported by Assault Craft Units 2 and
4; Beachmaster Group 2; Military Sealift Command (MSC); Naval Sea Systems
Command; Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division; Office of Naval
Research and various contractors in the conduct of the demonstrations.
The demonstrations used a heavy lift, or float-on/float-off, ship and a Large,
Medium-Speed, Roll-on/roll-off (LMSR) ship to simulate the future planned Mobile
Landing Platform (MLP) and LMSR "skin to skin" interface. The event also tested
automated stowage and retrieval systems in the at sea environment, as well as
initial experiments with dynamic positioning.
The MLP, an element of the MPF(F) squadron, will be the "pier in the ocean," a
surface interface platform that will allow ships such as Army and Navy LMSRs to
transfer vehicles and equipment to the MLP instead of going to a terminal on
The MLP is being designed to interface with LMSRs and Landing Craft Air Cushions
(LCACs), but other platforms such as the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV), Army
Logistic Support Vessels (LSV), and Landing Craft Utility (LCUs) could interface
with the ship for loading as well.
Mighty Servant III, a heavy-lift, semi-submersible ship owned by
Netherlands-based Dockwise International, was used as a surrogate MLP during the
USNS Red Cloud (T-AKR 313), a ship crewed by civilian mariners and operated by
MSC to support Army lift requirements, also participated in the exercise as the
representative LMSR. Red Cloud is a roll-on, roll-off vessel used to transport
military vehicles and other cargo and can load and unload from its stern, or
Events were initially conducted pierside for training, then at anchor and
ultimately in the open ocean.
"The exercise was based on a 'crawl, walk, run' philosophy," said Sudol. "This
approach ensured a safe operating environment for personnel, equipment and the
ships, and provided data under a variety of operating conditions."
The at-sea demonstrations covered seabase-enabling operations in sea states
ranging from sea state 3 through the middle range of sea state 4. Sea refers to
the height, period, and character of waves on the surface of a large body of
water. Sea state 3 refers to waves between .5 and 1.25 meters in height. Sea
state 4 refers to waves between 1.25 and 2.5 meters in height.
"Although we used ships not specifically designed for the purpose, we were able
to successfully demonstrate vehicle transfer and delivery in sea state 3 - the
threshold goal for the program," said Sudol. "We are working to progress to
higher seas as our understanding of the challenge develops."
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