Keeping 7th Fleet Fueled, Fed and Armed

     Singapore is home to the Logistics Department for Military Sealift Command Far East (MSCFE), and Commander, Task Force (CTF) 73.

The Commander, Logistics Group, Western Pacific and Military Sealift Command Far East Supply Team.

The Commander, Logistics Group, Western Pacific and Military Sealift Command Far East Supply Team.

     The command is located on the north side of the island at the Sembawang shipyard, where Combat Logistics Force (CLF) ships regularly pull in to load fuel and provisions.  The Logistics Directorate is headed by Navy Supply Corps Capt. Jesús Cantú, who functions as both Deputy Commodore for Military Sealift Command (MSC) Far East and as the N41 Assistant Chief of Staff (ACOS) for Logistics to CTF 73 Commander, Rear Adm. Cynthia Thebaud.  Their primary responsibility is to ensure combatant ships in the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR) stay well supplied with fuel, food, repair parts and ammunition.  Replenishments are routinely conducted at sea to ensure the area combatants stay mission ready at a moment’s notice.  Their role splits into three categories … fuel, ordnance and provisions.

     The Replenishment Officer reviews the ships’ schedules, coordinates with other CTFs, and writes the USNS schedules within the AOR so Navy combatant ships execute their missions without pulling into port to re-supply.  The goal is to ensure maximum operational flexibility while saving on the often-high cost of refueling in port.

     The Fuels Officer tracks usage and available fuel for all ships operating within the AOR.  At any given time, this can exceed 30 Navy ships and 10 Combat Logistics Force (CLF) ships.  He then makes recommendations on when replenishments should take place and when ships should refuel in port.  Each year, CLF ships in 7th Fleet pass more than 100 million gallons of fuel, resulting in more than $25 million in savings by not refueling in port.

     The Ordnance Division ensures all forward deployed Navy units, including ships, submarines, aircraft, Special Forces, security groups, and transiting units, are armed and ready to fight.  They do this through planning and coordinating all ammo transfers to ensure the Fleet stays battle ready.  CTF 73 moves more than 8,900 tons of ammunition on an annual basis, and this ammunition supplies 15 ammunition activities, 20 forward-deployed naval forces, three airwings and nine ammunition ships.

     All ordering of provisions, ship’s store items, including High Usage Load List (HULL), Fleet Issue Load List (FILL), and deckload items, are handled through MSC’s CLF Logistics Officer (CLO).  CLO was initially implemented in 2011 after the supply military detachments were removed from CLF ships.  The CLO office works with customer ships and USNS ships to provide a single point of contact for CLF support and replenishment.  They are also tasked with centralizing, standardizing, and optimizing the way commodities onboard CLF assets are managed.

     Some of the biggest challenges for the department include the ever-changing ship schedules and communications.  The Navy Warfighter can change missions or priorities at any given time, and the logistics department must flex their schedule to meet the Supply challenge to cover an area stretching from the seas in the middle of India to six days sailing time east of Guam.

     U.S. Navy combat ships aren’t the only ones to receive logistics services.  The Logistics Department also provides fuels and stores support to allied navies such as Singapore, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.

     A secondary mission of the MSC ships supports the many exercises conducted within Southeast Asia.  The supply ships have acted as “pirates” and “targets” for many multi-national exercises, like Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), Cobra Gold, Talisman Saber, Pacific Partnership and Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT).

     Ultimately, the Logistics Department supports the mission of Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific, CTF73, MSCFE and Navy Region Singapore as the U.S. 7th Fleet’s provider of combat-ready logistics, maintaining and operating government-owned ships and operating government-contracted ships to keep combatant ships and units throughout 7th Fleet armed, fueled, fed and supported.

By Lt. Cmdr. Steve Gulick, SC, USN; Logistics Plans Officer; Commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific, Singapore