Exercise to test concept of military base at sea

Exercise to test concept of military base at sea

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (HawaiiNewsNow) - The U.S. Navy has a new ship named the USNS Montford Point. it is 765 feet long, and part of a new concept called "sea basing" -- essentially, a floating military base.

"This gives us an opportunity to establish a base off the coast, move supplies, move people in, move the mission experts in, and then send them ashore," said Commodore Richard Rochford of the navy's Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron Three.

Rockford's unit will be among several that will take part in the Culebra Koa 2015 exercise off Oahu next week.

The Montford Point will act as a mobile landing platform. It can be tethered to other ships and take on vehicles, which then can be driven onto hovercraft, which can then deliver them to land.

According to Rockford, the base could be established as far as 25 miles offshore.

Military commanders coming to Hawaii for the exercise are looking forward to practicing the new concept.

"Saw it on the drawing board back at the Pentagon a long time ago, and you know, at the time, you always look at something and think, 'That's interesting, I wonder where that will take us,'" said Commodore Clint Carroll of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group. "Little would you know at the time that one day you'd be working with it."

"We're excited about it, and we're looking forward to getting the most out of it," said Col. Vance Cryer, commanding officer of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. "And we're looking forward to working through some of these other naval logistics integration efforts."

The military hopes it will also mean a faster response, no matter what the mission.

"It's not just for combat operations," said Rockford. "It can be for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, where the port has been destroyed."

The Culebra Koa exercise itself will involve not just the Navy and Marines, but also personnel from the Army, Air Force and Coast Guard.

The four-day exercise is scheduled to begin Monday in waters off Oahu.

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