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6 Ways MSC is Making an Impact

October 21, 2016 at 9:29 AM UTC
Military Sealift Command Europe-Africa Public Affairs

Military Sealift Command Europe & Africa (MSCEURAF) is the primary means of logistics support to U.S. 6th Fleet forces. Through its oilers, provision ships, special mission ships, and dedicated staff, MSCEURAF provides the highest standards of logistics and special mission capabilities to keep U.S. 6th Fleet assets on task and on mission. 

Here are six things you need to know:

1) Preserving Military Heritage

In September of 2016 USNS Grasp (T-ARS 51) aided in the continued search for John Paul Jones’ famed Revolutionary War ship, USS Bonhomme Richard.  The Grasp delivered underwater archaeologists, historians, and salvage divers from the U.S. and France to a site of interest in the North Sea. The Grasp is specially equipped for rescue and salvage missions, with a 7.5 ton crane boom forward, a 40 ton crane boom aft and is capable of supporting tethered diving to 300 feet. The Grasp is also equipped with robust towing and firefighting capabilities.

Currently, USNS Grasp is operating off of the Italian coast near Civitavecchia, where local divers reported finding wreckage of a WWII-era USAAF B-24H bomber with human remains inside. Mobile Dive and Salvage Unit 2 onboard Grasp is currently supporting the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA)-led excavation operation in search of the remaining missing-in-action crew members.  Once recovered and identified, the remains will be returned to their families.

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2) Deterring Illegal Migration

USNS Grapple (T-ARS 53), another of MSCEURAF’s rescue and salvage ships, patrolled the Aegean Sea for six weeks, as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group-2, a task force consisting of Greek, Turkish, and other Allied ships. Illegal migration into Europe continues to be a major humanitarian crisis, and MSCEURAF stands with our NATO allies as they work to deter trafficking. In addition to the Grapple, other MSCEURAF ships continue to provide logistics support to the effort.

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3) Providing a Mobile Command and Control Platform

The U.S. 6th Fleet flagship, USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), owned and maintained by Military Sealift Command (MSC), is currently operating in the Black Sea.The U.S. Navy, on a normal and routine basis, operates ships in the Black Sea consistent with the Montreux Convention and International Law.  The Mount Whitney is equipped with advanced communications suites to provide the U.S. 6th Fleet staff with a mobile platform to conduct command and control of its forces.

Prior to visiting Romania, Captain Carlos A. Sardiello, Mount Whitney’s commanding officer, discussed the importance of forward presence and America’s support of its allies.

“During our visit to Constanta, Romania we look forward to developing our relationship and broadening our cooperation with Romania, a valued NATO ally. As the USS Mount Whitney continues to operate in the Black Sea, we are very proud of the crew's performance and dedication to furthering U.S. Navy actions to support allies and partners working together on common challenges, with all contributions valued, toward a shared vision of prosperity, peace, and stability.  USS Mount Whitney continues Forward, Engaged, and Ready.”

Capt. Carlos A. Sardiello, commanding officer
USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20)

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4) Strengthening Partnerships in Africa

Expeditionary Fast Transport USNS Spearhead (T-EPF 1) entered the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in January to begin a four-month deployment to West Africa for the Africa Partnership Station, an ongoing effort to leverage training and operational engagements among regional partners. Spearhead visited Dakar, Senegal; Sekondi, Ghana; Douala, Cameroon; and Libreville, Gabon. The ship participated in multinational exercises Saharan Express and Obangame Express, playing lead roles in the exercises as a platform for boarding scenarios. Spearhead’s civil service mariner and military crew also conducted two months of Africa Maritime Law Enforcement operations in the Gulf of Guinea with members of the Cameroonian, Ghanaian and Senegalese navies, marine police, and fisheries departments.

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5) Providing International Mission Support

In an effort to strengthen ties with NATO allies, MSCEURAF oilers conducted over 50 replenishments at sea with vessels from ten different countries during fiscal year 2016. In total, MSCEURAF staff managed the operations of 51 ships in the EUCOM and AFRICOM areas of responsibility. These 51 ships provided a multitude of capabilities, including: theater security cooperation, oceanographic survey, rescue and salvage, maritime prepositioning, and sealift operations.

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6) MSCEURAF Delivers

During fiscal year 2016 MSC assets participated in six major exercises and made 223 port calls to 45 different locations. MSCEURAF staff members also coordinated 27 ship transits through the Strait of Gibraltar. Sealift ships delivered 708 containers of cargo and transferred 3.5 million barrels of fuel to various fuel-bunkering locations throughout Europe. MSCEURAF provides the means for the Fleet to accomplish the mission.

USS San Antonio (LPD 17) 2013

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