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Ramping ‘em up, lashing ‘em down: MPF vessel delivers critical gear to warfighters

By Verda L. Parker | Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany | October 17, 2014


If an individual is familiar with the terms, “offload, backload, lashing, Big Red, RORO and LOLO,” then he or she has some basic knowledge of the day-to-day operations on the USNS Pfc. Dewayne T. Williams docked at Blount Island Command, Jacksonville, Florida.

Delivering military gear to warfighters around the globe is considered critical to the success of the country’s armed forces and the freedoms service members are committed to protect.

In order to facilitate the demand, according to some personnel at BICmd, the backload/offload process is one of the largest operations of the Maritime Prepositioning Force Program on the installation.

“All of the equipment that we backload and off-load is on MPF ships,” Sgt. Jonathan Nichols, ammunition technician, BICmd, said. “That is basically putting a lot of gear on the ships. The main purpose of the MPF program is that it allows us to be basically in any country around the world within our guidelines, in a manner of hours and days, versus weeks it would have taken us to sail from America to another place. We can have gear staged all around the world.

“If there is a conflict or a humanitarian effort somewhere in another country, we have the ship close by and we can support them there,” Nichols pointed out. “If there is any kind of training necessary, we can (provide) training in other countries. It won’t take us long with this program because we (already) have our gear on the ship.”

The facility’s vehicle lots and container lots are lined with equipment as well as massive empty containers, which support the warfighters.

Through a process of “roll-on and roll-off” and “load-on and load-off,” the USNS Williams’ crew works daily to strategically and safely fit and lash (tie down) the required gear on the vessel’s various decks.

Other crewmen use their skills to contribute to the overall MPF program’s system to lift heavy metal containers on board the vessel via a mammoth crane, dubbed “Big Red.”