By Travis Weger, MSCEURAF Public Affairs
Military Sealift Command (MSC) fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE 6) is participating in the 49th Baltic Operations (BALTOPS 2020) exercise, June 7-16, with 19 NATO allies and partner nations.
BALTOPS, which is a joint, maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region held since 1972, typically includes at-sea exercises and port visits to enhance relations between participating nations. This year, for the protection of crews in a COVID-19 environment, the exercise is exclusively at sea.
Supply played a critical role to help protect the health and safety of U.S. and allied nations by allowing ships to remain at sea during the exercise.
To help keep ships on station, Supply completed rapid refueling and replenishments-at-sea. Civilian mariners onboard Supply can provide millions of gallons of fuel to multiple ships in a day.
Supply is one of MSC’s largest combat logistics ships, which means more fuel and supplies for NATO allies and partners during the exercise.
“They needed fuel to continue supporting the exercise,” said Church. “We were able to fuel some ships simultaneously; it is what we do!”
According to Second Officer Tegan Church, replenishing the ships went quickly and safely.
BALTOPS includes assets from NATO allies and partner nations that includes live training events, which included air defense, anti-submarine warfare, maritime interdiction and mine countermeasure operations.
Participating nations included Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the U.K., and the U.S., with 28 maritime units, 28 aircraft and 3,000 personnel.
“I am proud of USNS Supply, HSC 11.1, Captain John Pritchett and crew,” said Commodore, Military Sealift Command Europe and Africa and Commander, Task Force 63 Capt. Frank Okata. “They stepped up to meet the challenges during this environment which helped protect the force of U.S. and allied nations.”
MSC operates approximately 125 naval auxiliary civilian-crewed ships, replenishes U.S. Navy ships, strategically prepositions combat cargo at sea and moves military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners around the world.