USNS Montford Point (T-ESD 1) approaches USNS Soderman (T-AKR 317) during a seabasing exercise near Saipan, July 13. (U.S. Navy photo)

PACIFIC OCEAN - Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) expeditionary transfer dock USNS Montford Point (T-ESD 1) and large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off (LMSR) ship USNS Soderman (T-AKR 317) performed a “skin-to-skin” (S2S) maneuver in the vicinity of Saipan to demonstrate MSC’s unique seabasing capability, July 12-13.

The S2S maneuver is achieved by the two ships connecting while the Montford Point acts as a floating pier for a simulated offload. The event displayed the two ships’ ability to transfer large cargo at sea.

During the first day of the exercise, the two vessels conducted touch-and-go maneuvers, when the the ships navigated alongside each other and were moored together. On the second day, the vessels successfully conducted the S2S.

In the S2S exercise, the Soderman lifted the Montford Point’s ramp with its shipboard crane and connected the ramp to the LMSR ship.

Once the ramp is connected, vehicles and cargo can be rolled on and off with efficiency.Though, no equipment was transferred during the event, during a full demonstration, the Soderman can discharge equipment onto the Montford Point through the connecting ramp. The equipment can then be loaded into landing craft air cushion (LCAC) vessels for transfer to shore.

While expeditionary transfer dock can act as a floating pier, LMSRs can carry an entire U.S. Army Task Force, including 58 tanks, 48 other tracked vehicles, plus more than 900 trucks and other wheeled vehicles. The ships can carry vehicles and equipment to support humanitarian missions, as well as combat missions.

The Montford Point and Soderman are both part of Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron Three (MPSRON-3).

When the Montford Point is on mission, the ship submerges to about 40 feet while underway. Once on station it submerges to about 50 feet, so that LCACs can maneuver right up on the mission deck to pick up cargo.

The Montford Point can operate the makeshift pier 25 miles off shore. The ship has 25,000 square feet of vehicle and equipment stowage space and can hold 380,000 gallons of JP-5 jet fuel.

MSC operates approximately 115 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 deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.

MPSRON 3, operating in the western Pacific, maintains tactical control of the 12 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.