MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BLOUNT ISLAND Fla. -- BLOUNT ISLAND COMMAND, Jacksonville, Fla. The USNS 1st Lt.. Harry L. Martin officially received its new name during a naming ceremony at the Blount Island Command pier in Jacksonville, Fla., June 1.
The USNS Martin becomes the first of three Maritime Prepositioning Force (Enhanced) ships, and the Marine Corps 14th Maritime Prepositioning Ship (MPS) overall.
Eleanor Martin Abbott, sister of the ships namesake, and Marjorie S. Abbot, wife of Admr. Charles S. Abbot, Deputy Commander in Chief U.S. European Command, were the ships sponsors and broke the ceremonial bottles of champagne over the USNS Martins side railing during the morning ceremony. Also in attendance were Mrs. Hazel Martin, Matron of Honor and sister-in-law of 1st Lt.. Harry Martin; Mrs. Barbara G. Fleming, Matron of Honor; 1st Lt.. Martins nephews Robert Martin and Gary Martin; nieces Terry Freedy and Toni Coakley; sister-in-law Ruby Reinecke; and great niece Lori Driggers.
If my brother were here today, he would have said he simply did what any other person would have done for his country, Eleanor Abbott said emotionally. And he loved (his country) very much.
Like all ships in the MPS program, the USNS Martin was named for a Marine Medal of Honor recipient. First lieutenant Martin received his medal posthumously for heroic actions against enemy Japanese forces on March 26, 1945, on Iwo Jima. The presence of his sister for the ceremony added a special meaning for all in attendance.
The ceremony was highlighted by the sincere and heart-wrenching comments of Mrs. Eleanor Abbot, as she spoke of the great love her brother had for his country and, in particular, the Marines of his platoon for whom he gave his life, said Col. Christopher C. Kauffmann, commanding officer of Blount Island Command.
Now once more, 1st Lt. Harry L. Martin will be coming to the aid of Marines. Admiral Stanley R. Arthur, USN (Ret.), principal speaker for the ceremony, noted his own career involved working with MPS ships, and that the USNS Martin will undoubtedly further the ability to provide Marines and Sailors with the assets they need to face war.
The opportunity to have this type of equipment at your beck and call is absolutely awesome, Arthur said. This ship is a bridge that will span the oceans of the world.
The USNS Martin is operated by the Military Sealift Command, the ocean transportation agency for the Department of Defense; however, unlike its MPS predecessors, it is Navy owned. The original 13 MPS vessels are privately owned and chartered to the U.S. Navy.
Still, the mission remains the same. MPS ships are loaded with Marine Corps and Navy warfighting equipment and prepositioned around the world in three Maritime Prepositioning Squadrons, or MPSRONs.
Their mission is to provide forward positioned equipment to link up with deployed Marines and Sailors for a rapid response to contingencies throughout the world.
The USNS Martin, 754 feet long, will enhance the MPS program by carrying equipment for an Expeditionary Airfield, a Navy fleet hospital, and a Naval Construction Battalion.
It will also carry additional equipment previously removed from the original 13 ships to make room for additional M1A1 tanks.
Ships like the Martin will guarantee that our armed forces will have the equipment they need anyplace, anytime, anywhere, said Vice Admiral Gordon S. Holder, USN, Commander of Military Sealift Command.
The USNS Martin will be assigned to MPSRON-1, located in the Mediterranean, which supports II Marine Expeditionary Force. Two additional MPF(E) ships, the USNS Wheat and USNS Soderman, are scheduled for delivery in fiscal year 2001. The USNS Wheat is scheduled for assignment to MPSRON-3 in Guam/Saipan, which supports III MEF; the USNS Soderman will be assigned to MPSRON-2 in Diego Garcia, for I MEF.