Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron THREE (MPSRON 3) successfully conducted their third underway multi-ship training exercise, Group Sail, Aug. 19-24, off the coast of Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.
Although this was the third Group Sail event, this was the first time many of the ship's captains and their crew participated in a Group Sail of this scale. The Group Sail spanned five days and included seven prepositioning ships: USNS 1st LT Jack Lummus (T-AK 3011), USNS Dahl (T-AKR 312), USNS 2nd LT John P. Bobo (T-AK 3008), USNS John Glen (T-ESD 2), USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE 2), USNS Pililaau (T-AKR 304) and MV CAPT David I. Lyon.
The intense schedule focused on the skill-sets necessary to ensure the safety and security of the Global MSC Fleet assets. To improve crew proficiency, the squadron rehearsed formation steaming, emissions control drills, flashing light communications, torpedo evasion and maneuvering tactics, mine avoidance, and anti-submarine tactics.
The staff had an added bonus of conducting storm-avoidance procedures as the initial schedule had to be amended due to bad weather and Typhoon Cimaron.
The Group Sail offered the opportunity to exercise with several units in Guam. These joint exercises included the participation of Helicopter Squadron 25 (HSC-25), Special Boat Team 12 (SBT-12) from Naval Special Warfare Unit 1 (NSWU-1), and rigid-hulled inflatable boats from Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF).
Medevac exercises and Combat Craft Boat Operations with these units provided an unprecedented scale and value, rarely seen in typical training evolutions.
"Training with an actual formation and target representative opposition forces in a restricted water environment is a rare and invaluable opportunity for our pilots and aircrew," said Lt. Adam "Shaggy" Shields, assistant training officer, HSC-25. "MPSRON 3's willingness to build this high fidelity, realistic training makes HSC-25 better prepared to meet the demanding requirements in our area of responsibility."
Throughout day and night simulated strait transits off the coast of Guam, HSC-25 provided over-watch to the MPSRON squadron while small craft from SBT-12 and PMRF engaged in harassment tactics. The Group Sail culminated in a PhotoEx assisted by HSC-25.
"As the newest member of the staff I really didn't know what to expect," said Lt. j.g. Brian Lasley, supply officer in MPSRON 3. "This was my first Group Sail event and I was excited to see what our ships could do. I was truly impressed by the ship handling and communications between the staff and the Mariners on watch on USNS Bobo. Having the captain on the bridge during the evolutions was a great chance to witness a glimpse of the inner workings of what it takes to command a vessel as large as the John P. Bobo."
MPSRON 3 operates in the Western Pacific under the command of Navy Capt. Eric Lindfors and maintains tactical control of 16 ships carrying afloat prepositioned U.S. military cargo for the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Air Force. The squadron's mission is to enable force from the sea by providing swift and effective transportation of vital equipment and supplies for designated operations.
"I am very proud of the team work and professionalism exhibited by all participants during challenging conditions brought on by Typhoon Cimaron. The training that was completed focused on our core capabilities that must be continually maintained up to high-end tactics for coordinated defense of these global and strategic assets," said Lindfors, who also carries the distinction of Commodore for MPSRON 3. "We could have not completed our requirements without the phenomenal support from HSC-25, SBT 12 and PMRF. I look forward to our next event and building on what we have learned and how we can include several other local Guam commands so we can further improve the training."