- A UH-60 helicopter is raised portside of the general purpose, heavy lift ship MV OCEAN GLORY during a backload of equipment at Chuk Samet, here, from exercise Hanuman Guardian, July 12. Military Sealift Command’s contracted voyage-charter MV OCEAN GLORY recently conducted a backload of about 250 items in Thailand as part of U.S. Army Pacific’s mobility operation PACIFIC PATHWAYS 16-2. (Photo by Grady Fontana)
SINGAPORE (July 27, 2016) -- Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) voyage-charter MV OCEAN GLORY is currently traveling through the Pacific as part of mobility operation PACIFIC PATHWAYS 16-2 (PP16-2).
The OCEAN GLORY is a commercial ship from Intermarine under contract by MSC to support PP16-2, a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) mobility operation that supports three USARPAC exercises and links them into a single operation by using a single MSC commercial vessel to carry a designated task force and their force package equipment for the entire duration. This iteration of PP16-2 is supporting exercises' Hanuman Guardian in Thailand, Keris Strike in Malaysia, and Garuda Shield in Indonesia.
“This is a general purpose, heavy lift ship,” said Christopher Cassano, plans and exercises officer, MSC Far East. “It has heavy capacity cranes, which when used in tandem can be used to lift pretty heavy stuff.”
The ship is a multi-purpose dry cargo ship that's equipped for carriage containers and strengthened for heavy cargo. She is equipped with three shipboard cranes: crane one, which is near the bow, can lift approximately 120 metric tons (265,000 pounds); and cranes two and three can each lift approximately 450 metric tons (about one million pounds). When two and three are used as a single unit, the cranes combine for 900 metric tons of lift.
The OCEAN GLORY is a member of the Maritime Security Program (MSP), a series of American-flag ships that are assets the U.S. military can draw upon during contingencies.
According to www.globalsecurity.org, MSP was established by the Maritime Security Act of 1996 “to assure the continued viability of a U.S.-flag merchant marine capable of maintaining a role in international commercial shipping and supporting the national sealift policy of maintaining assured access to U.S-flag shipping to deploy unilaterally if necessary during national emergencies,” and contingencies.
“The U.S. government, through maritime administration, pays a small stipend to these companies,” said Cassano. “The OCEAN GLORY belongs to the MSP, and because of that, she is eligible for missions such as this.”
Due to the number of vessels enrolled in the MSP, missions like these will see a mix between traditional commercial ships and U.S. naval ships (USNS). “It won’t just be USNS and it won’t just be commercial,” said Cassano.
Some missions need the USNS platform. “For instance, if the Army has a requirement to have a helicopter flight deck, (OCEAN GLORY) won’t work, or if the Army says they need to house a hundred soldiers on board, this ship can’t do it,” said Cassano.
However, for the PP16-2 mission, the ship meets the requirement—to lift big bulky gear and move it across, and in and around the Pacific.
The MV OCEAN GLORY departed Tacoma, Wash., in mid-May with equipment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) and a detachment of ship riders, and made a stop in Hawaii to embark more gear, before arriving in June to Thailand, in support of exercise Hanuman Guardian, to offload equipment for U.S. Army Task Force Lancer, made up of elements of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from JBLM and 2nd Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade from Hawaii.
After Hanuman Guardian, the equipment voyaged to Malaysia where some equipment were discharged to support Keris Strike. Immediately after the offload, the OCEAN GLORY transited to Indonesia to discharge gear for exercise Garuda Shield.
At the conclusion of the exercise, the ship will backload all gear from Indonesia, then Malaysia before returning to Hawaii and JBLM.
As much as the PP16-2 was an operation to increase U.S. Army readiness and to promote partnership and interoperability in the Pacific, the evolution was an opportunity for MSC to learn about port operations in the various countries.
“A regular movement, especially a commercial movement is relatively simple. The biggest challenge is all the coordination with the various host nation partners, the various exercise participants, and the different logistics teams,” said Cassano.
According to Capt. Christopher Hill, merchant marine and master of the OCEAN GLORY, working with the U.S. military was a unique opportunity for him and his crew. He was impressed by the level of professionalism displayed.
“These (service members) have a certain sense of ‘we can do this’ instead of ‘how are we going to do this?’ attitude,” said Hill. “It’s a culture…it’s something that everybody shares.”
Despite the large number of parties involved, Hill noted the sense of teamwork.
“The people that we work here with, we count as our friends in all cases and even our shipmates in other cases,” said Hill. “Sometimes, the ship’s agent will have one set of goals in mind and the owners have another set of goals, while the ship has whatever goals are set for it… sometimes they mesh and sometimes they don’t. But there’s only one agenda here and everyone is on the same page.”
MSC operates approximately 115 non-combatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.