Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron One: Fair Winds and Following Seas…

Maritime Prepositioning Ship (MPS) Squadron One is part of MSC’s Maritime Prepositioning Force, a group of ships specially configured to strategically position supplies for the U.S. Marine Corps at sea. These ships are laden with a variety of Marine Corps equipment and supplies, including tanks, ammunition, food, hospital equipment, petroleum products and spare parts – ready for rapid delivery ashore when needed. Each squadron carries sufficient equipment and supplies to sustain more than 15,650 Marine Expeditionary Force personnel for up to 30 days. MPS Squadron One has been home to a number of prepositioning ships in the Mediterranean throughout the years and will be disestablished at the end of September, leaving two MPS Squadrons still operating forward to support the Marine Corps.

The following blog post was written September 1, 2012, by Capt. Ricks Polk, MPS Squadron One Commodore, in anticipation of the late September squadron disestablishment.

It’s another Saturday at Hurd Bank, a deep water anchorage 12 to 14 miles off the coast of Malta, in the Central Mediterranean. Winds are blowing about 15 to 20 knots, blue skies and white caps building on the water. Navy plays Notre Dame in football at 3 p.m. today in Dublin, Ireland. 

I had hoped we might swing a port visit to Ireland and watch the game in person, but today we’ll watch on the Armed Forces Network (AFN) aboard Maritime Prepositioning Force ship USNS 2ND LT John P. Bobo (T-AK 3008) at anchor, just like our Sailors, Soldiers, and Airman deployed at sea and in a variety of countries around the world. 

ALMERIA, Spain (February 14, 2011) USNS 2ND LT John P. Bobo sits at anchor in the port of Almeria, Spain. (U.S. Navy photo)

It’s just another day of the 450 days I’ve been stationed aboard Bobo. It is life at sea, and there is an attraction to it that I really can’t explain with words. Every once in awhile, I see it out the porthole of my cabin when the seas are flat, like a mirror, or when I’m standing on the fantail and look down at a color of aqua blue that they don’t even have in the 128 Crayola crayon pack. Then, there is the other extreme that is equally impressive: standing on the bridge wing of the ship with 50-knot winds and seas crashing over the bow with white water spraying across all the containers and cargo on deck.

This is my 35th year in the Navy, and when I saw the opportunity to come back to sea, I had to take it. Fortunately, my wife understands the lure of the sea and has been very supportive of my quest to see the world.

I’m in the last month of that opportunity. MPS Squadron One, which currently includes Bobo, the flagship; USNS PFC Eugene A. Obregon (T-AK 3006), the alternate flag-ship; USNS LCPL Roy M. Wheat (T-AK 3016); and USNS SGT Matej Kocak (T-AK 3005) is going to be disestablished at the end of September. 

MPS Squadron One has sailed the Mediterranean, Eastern Atlantic and Baltic for nearly 28 years. With no permanent homeport, this is the BEST job in the Navy. And my time with MSC has been an experience of a lifetime.

Our old Navy slogan (“See the World!”) is still true, and this squadron and I have seen a good bit of it. During the squadron’s history, the ships AND crew of MPS Squadron One have supported the whole range of operations, ranging from humanitarian assistance, and overseas contingency operations in support of Desert Shield and Operation Enduring Freedom. Those same ships and crew have occasionally been based ashore to coordinate strategic lift as well.

I see boxes beginning to fill my stateroom; I can’t help but be reminded that our time is quickly coming to a close. The Navy has given me another tour of great memories with great people doing great things. I’m going to miss the sea and these big ships plowing the waves.  I might see the Navy football game next year without the “No Signal” on the screen, but I will miss the feel of the ocean under my feet and the sounds that are only found on a ship at sea.

We’re coming home to family and friends as we say fair winds to the squadron, its ships and its following seas…

MPS Squadron One image gallery

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