The leadership of Military Sealift Command’s 6th Fleet-based Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron One, or MPS Squadron One, changed hands May 22 in Corfu, Greece, with the outgoing commander Capt. Clay Saunders being relieved by Capt. William Sheehan during a ceremony held aboard the squadron’s flagship USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo.
The ships of MPS Squadron One – MSC ships Bobo and USNS LCPL Roy M. Wheat – are forward deployed year-round in the European and African theaters, strategically prepositioning military cargo at-sea for quick delivery ashore in the event of any fast-breaking military or humanitarian crises.
While Bobo and Wheat are noncombatant cargo ships crewed by merchant mariners, the squadron is commanded by a Navy captain and a military staff embarked aboard the flagship.
In addition to the squadron’s primary mission of prepositioning military cargo afloat, the ships also participate in a number of and NATO exercises throughout the year.
In April, the squadron collaborated with Africa Partnership Station platform USS Fort McHenry and HSV-2 Swift in a historic exercise held off the coast of , . During the exercise, the squadron demonstrated the Navy’s sea basing concept by deploying the Improved Navy Lighterage System. INLS is made up of two at-sea components: A roll-on/roll-off discharge platform comprised of non-motorized barges that allow ships to off-load cargo at sea and a powered ferry that delivers the cargo ashore. This is an important capability when traditional harbor facilities are unavailable.
After the INLS was assembled five miles off the Liberian coast, Swift pulled up to the platform and loaded trucks, equipment and humanitarian aid cargo from Bobo, Wheat and . This cargo was then delivered ashore to be used by a number of schools and clinics in .