Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron 3 ships operate in formation off Saipan, Aug. 3. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Matt Brown)

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands - Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron (MPSRON) 3 successfully conducted an underway multi-ship training exercise, Group Sail, Aug. 2-3, off the coast of Saipan.

For the first time in 10 years MPSRON 3 conducted its largest successful multi-day Group Sail event with six preposition ships, the USNS 1st LT Jack Lummus (T-AK 3011), USNS 2nd LT John P. Bobo (T-AK 3008), USNS GYSGT Fred W. Stockham (T-AK 3017), USNS Pililaau (T-AKR 304), USNS Red Cloud (T-AKR 313) and USNS Soderman (T-AKR 317).

This demanding two-day exercise was used to train the ships in interoperability with other ships within the squadron, and used to prepare them to work with other U.S. Navy assets and escorts.

During the exercise the MPSRON ships executed close quarter turns, torpedo evasions tactics and formation steaming; they also used time to practice night time signal communications as well as working with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25 for night time deck landing qualifications.

While the purpose of this exercise was to prepare the squadron in tactical movement, it was also used as valuable training time for military staff of the squadron, who took the opportunity to improve their skills in command and control of multiple ships.

"This was the most exciting day that I have had yet, and I am grateful for the chance to learn something new and to be able to take part in this," said Taylor Crisci a cadet from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy onboard the USNS Lummus.

Under the command of Navy Capt. Eric Lindfors, MPSRON 3 operates in the western Pacific, maintaining tactical control of the 13 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. MPSRON 3 is part of Military Sealift Command.

"I am very pleased with how this event was executed. My staff worked very hard with all involved to ensure a crawl, walk, run phasing and the efforts in planning have shown themselves in the results," said Lindfors. "The success was only possible with the inputs we received from the ships' masters as we were operating with four different classes of ships all about the size of an aircraft carrier. I look forward to the next event and increasing the complexity so that we are better ready to support any call received."

MSC operates approximately 120 non-combatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy Ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by U.S. forces and coalition partners.