Since mid-November, when most of our thoughts had turned to the upcoming holidays, three Military Sealift Command ships were providing support to eight U.S. 3rd Fleet ships as they conducted routine training operations in the Pacific area of operations.
Leading the way, fleet replenishment oiler USNS Yukon (T-AO 202) provided logistics services to the strike group. Throughout the month long training period, Yukon delivered 427 pallets of food, parts and equipment, 3 million gallons of jet fuel and nearly 8 million gallons of diesel ship fuel, during 53 replenishments-at-sea (RAS).
According to Bart Miranda, Military Sealift Command Pacific (MSCPAC) deputy combat logistics officer, this training period was very challenging for the Military Sealift Command Pacific team. In past scenarios of this kind, the group included four to five ships, while this one was made-up of eight ships, including an aircraft carrier. This meant more RASs and more materials being moved from ship to ship.
“Typically, we would only service four ships during an operation like this one, but this time, we provided logistics services to eight,” said Miranda. “This became a big challenge for us, but thankfully, Yukon was really willing to take on more cargo and stepped-up the number of RASs they did.”
In addition to Yukon, MSC dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10) also participated in resupplying the strike group. While not the main logistics ship, Drew did conduct RASs with the strike group, delivering 353 pallets.
According to Miranda, MSC’s ability to replenish ships benefits the Navy, by providing all the items needed to sustain the ships at sea, and allows them to stay in the area of operation longer, and without the need to come into port for supplies.
Coordinating all the logistic support required teamwork. According to the MSCPAC Logistics department, constant communication between their department, the MSCPAC Operations Department, the ships, Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, Fleet Logistics Command and the Defense Logistics Agency, ensured the ships were able to get the supplies and fuel they needed in a timely manner, sometimes within a day of requesting them.
“With this many ships needing materials and fuel, being able to talk back and forth with all the commands involved really made all the difference,” said Miranda. “We were able to find the needed supplies, get them onto the logistic ship, and out to the requestor with not too much delay or confusion. I really attribute our success to our commitment to our teamwork.”
In addition to providing logistics support, MSC expeditionary fast transport ship USNS City of Bismarck (T-EPF-9) participated in training evolutions with various ships underway.
“MSC is know for our support of the fleet,” explained Capt. Gabe Varela, commander, MSCPAC. “Our support to various 3rd Fleet units is a great example of how MSC does business as well as the commitment and professionalism our mariners and our employees exemplify. This is just a small taste of what we as a command are capable of, and I look forward to seeing and putting into action more of our capabilities in the new decade.”