USNS Bob Hope Assists in Military Exercise


‘Brilliant Tern’ Displays Value, Workings of Prepositioning Ships


December 2011


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The SIU-crewed USNS Bob Hope recently played an important role in a successful U.S. military exercise designed to test and refine certain functions of prepositioning ships.


According to the U.S. Military Sealift Command, Exercise Brilliant Tern featured the USNS Bob Hope – operated by AMSEA – and took place Nov. 9-10 at Naval Base San Diego and Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. Subordinate units of U.S. Expeditionary Strike Group 3 (ESG3) conducted the drills.


A communication from ESG3 pointed out that Brilliant Tern was “designed as a proof-of-concept, first-of-its-kind exercise honing core maritime prepositioning force (MPF) competencies.” Participants loaded and off-loaded “rolling stock” utilizing the Bob Hope’s lift-on/lift-off capabilities between the vessel and a sand ramp at training areas across San Diego Bay at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado.


“This is the first time we have done this maritime prepositioning force exercise in a home port,” said Rear Adm. Gerard Hueber, commander of ESG3. “We are able to flex the entire capabilities of the Expeditionary Strike Group and Naval Beach Group teams.”


The exercise required more than a week of preparations involving various materiel, including wheeled vehicles, containers and a bulk liquid transfer system. Once the drill began, participants used a Navy lighterage system, which essentially is a floating pier assembled from interchangeable modules.


Items were moved from Coronado to the Bob Hope, a little less than two miles away at Naval Base San Diego. Materiel then was lifted onto the ship for transport to another training area. Upon arrival at the latter area, the equipment safely was moved to shore.


ESG3 personnel described the civilian-crewed maritime prepositioning force as “an important capability that allows sustained forward operations in hot spots throughout the world. A Marine expeditionary unit (MEU) is typically the first unit ashore in any amphibious operation. The MEU has the ability to sustain itself without resupply for seven days. After the initial assault force goes ashore, the larger, follow-on force will come ashore after the beach has been secured. This is where the MPF comes into play. MPF ships will offload the follow-on force’s equipment and supplies which will allow the force to remain on station without resupply for a period of up to 30 days.”


There are MPF squadrons – including a number of SIU-crewed vessels – located in the western Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.


SIU members aboard the USNS Bob Hope immediately before and during Exercise Brilliant Tern included Bosun William Henderson, ABs Anthony Antonio, Troy Ingersoll, Romeo Escalera and Joshua German, OS Jeremy Scheil, Wiper David Dunklin, Chief Steward Leslie Davis and Chief Cook Miriam Chacon.



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