MSC Conducts Turbo Activation for Three MARAD Ready Reserve Ships in Pacific Area of Operation

Three Maritime Administration ready reserve ships are currently participating in a readiness and tactical advisor training activation, directed by Military Sealift Command (MSC) in the Pacific area of operations off the coast of California.

Known as a Turbo Activation, the three ships got underway on Monday, with just five days notice, to sail from berths in Alameda, Calif., and tests MSC’s ability to perform its surge sealift fleet in support of the U.S. Navy in time of contingency.

In addition to the readiness test, these ships embarked Tactical Advisors (TACAD), a Navy Reserve component program that uses Strategic Sealift Officers and Navy Surface Warfare Officers to provide tactical information and to advise the ship’s masters of potential threats to the vessel and mission as they train to work in increasingly contested environments.  TACADS enhance force protection and increase the survivability of U.S. personnel, cargo and equipment.  During this exercise, at sea, the ships, SS Gem State (T-ACS 2), SS Keystone State (T-ACS 1) and SS Grand Canyon State (T-ACS 3) are conducting training such as restricted maneuvering, formation steaming and visual communications and various other warfare area training.

MSC’s and MARAD’s reserve fleets are collectively referred to as the surge sealift fleet and are expected to be a ready source of shipping and transportation millions of square feet of cargo other force equipment and supplies to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps.  To ensure the ship’s readiness, MSC conducts turbo activations.  The activations not only ensure the ships meet their five and ten-day readiness status, but also that the ship’s crews are prepared to operate alongside the Navy’s warfighters as part of the bigger Navy team.

“Civilian mariners don’t always understand their parts in Navy operations, and training like can really put that fact into perspective for them,” explained Mario Majors, and operations instructor for MSC. “This kind of training really teaches them how to work alongside the Navy and that they are a part of the bigger military mission.”

Despite working together often, one of the biggest challenges for the Navy and MSC is communications between the Sailors and the civilian mariners.  A controlled training environment is the perfect setting for addressing this challenge and improving on it.

“We spend a lot of time talking about communication and training with various types of visual communications such as semaphore, flashing lights and flags,” said Frank Mueller, operations instructor for MSC.  “We really work to get the mariners to understand why they are doing all this Navy stuff and for the Navy to understand how to work with the civilians.”

All three ships departed for the three-day sea trial within four days of activation, and conducted a very successful training and readiness exercise.  The ships will return to their lay berths to await further mission support.


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