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Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Maritime Prepositioning Force ships adding to capability

By Staff Sgt. Jeffrey D. Weeks | | June 2, 2000

BLOUNT ISLAND COMMAND, Jacksonville, Fla. The naming of the USNS 1st Lt. Harry L. Martin, a Maritime Prepositioning Force (Enhanced) Ship, officially ushered in a new segment of prepositioning Marine Corps warfighting equipment around the world. Along with the future USNS Wheat and USNS Soderman, the USNS Martin will provide greatly expanded prepositioning capabilities for equipment available to Marines and Sailors deploying to worldwide contingencies.
Since the mid-1980s, Marine Corps and Navy equipment have been stored on 13 Maritime Prepositioning Ships broken down into three Maritime Prepositioning Squadrons, or MPSRONs. 
These squadrons compose the MPF program, allowing for rapid response to contingencies by linking deployed personnel of Marine Air-Ground Task Forces to the equipment prepositioned aboard the ships. 
Each squadron carries enough supplies and equipment to sustain a fighting force of 18,500 personnel for 30 days, and is capable of responding to any area within its responsibility within seven days. 
If required, any squadron can also sail to any part of the world within two weeks. Prepositioning the equipment saves logistical effort and time by reducing the number of air sorties required to move into a contingency area and establish a presence. 
This equipment includes everything from tanks to bandages and motor transport vehicles with Meals-Ready-to-Eat. The ships are also equipped with lighterage (road-sized interconnectable barges) should the need arise to offload the equipment in-stream when port facilities are not available. The MPF(E) ships will now expand each MPSRONs capabilities. Each MPF(E) ship will carry equipment for an Expeditionary Airfield (EAF), a Naval Construction Battalion, and a 500-bed Navy fleet hospital.  The EAFs alone will enhance the MPF program by eliminating dependence on existing airfields or aircraft carriers.
Employment of the MPS ships during Desert Storm and Desert Shield proved instrumental as the prepositioned equipment was at the forefront of establishing a ground defense. MPF assets also proved valuable in providing humanitarian and security capabilities for Restore Hope and Continue Hope in Somalia.