30 April 2020






2 mins

Strategic sealift ships are part of the United States Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) prepositioning program. Currently there are around 50 ships in the program, strategically positioned around the world to support the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Defense Logistics Agency. Most are named after Medal of Honor recipients from the service they support.

The Prepositioning Ships (PREPO) in each squadron have sufficient equipment, supplies and ammunition to support a Marine Air/Ground Task Force for 30 days. The MPS ships are self-sustaining, with cranes to unload at sea or pierside. One of the said ships is USNS LCPL ROY M. WHEAT T-AK 3016 in honor of the U.S. Marine Corps lance corporal who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for sacrificing his life to save the lives of two other Marines in a land mine explosion in Vietnam on Aug. 11, 1967.

It was back in 1997 when the Military Sealift Command awarded a firm, fixed price contract in the amount of $150 million to Ocean Marine Navigation Co., Inc. of Annapolis, Md., for the purchase, conversion and operation and maintenance of GTS BAZALIYA, a roll-on/roll-off ship. Of the total contract award amount, $100 million was for the purchase and conversion work, and $50 million was for the operation and maintenance of the ship for the first five years. Once she was delivered T-AK 2016 became the second ship in the Maritime Prepositioning Force (Enhanced), or MPF(E), program.

She was built in 1987 by Chernomorskiy shipyard, Nikolayev, USSR with yard no 234 as VLADIMIR VASLYAYEV, one of four Kapitan Smirnov rolker (proj.1609) for Black Sea Shipping Co.,Odessa trading until October 1996 when renamed GTS BAZALIYA trading until May 1997 when she was purchased by MSC for conversion.

She has 114,924 square feet of ro/ro capacity, 996 square feet of container capacity with dimensions as 263 metres long and 30 metres beam with a compliment of 39 ( 27 Civilian + 12 Military Personnel. Her propulsion are two CPGAS turbine engines, total HP 38,400 twin reversable screws with bow and stern thrusters with maximum speed of 22 knots and endurance of 16,000 nautical miles.

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Photos by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos –

Published – Thursday 30th April, 2020

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