The US Military Sealift Command’s expeditionary fast transport vessel USNS Spearhead and its embarked detachment of U.S. Navy Sailors, Marines, civil service mariners and U.K. and Spanish Marines departed Libreville, Gabon, on April 15.
While in Libreville the embarked U.S. Marine Corps detachment conducted tactical training alongside the United Kingdom Royal Marines and Spanish Marines with Gabonese maritime forces aboard the Spearhead consisting of weapons handling, close quarter battle, and patrolling tactics.
Spearhead’s crew and embarked military detachment hosted over 150 host nation embassy personnel and 20 Gabonese military personnel for ship tours, provided media training to nine military officials and participated in a community relations project working alongside a detachment of Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133.
The community relations project was conducted at a local orphanage and consisted of infrastructure improvement and beautification projects.
“There were several cooperation events taking place during this visit as a part of the maritime security capacity building initiative Africa Partnership Station. I’ve been able to observe some of the training between our forces and have been extremely impressed by the professionalism and the level of commitment each of our forces puts into security,” said Rear Adm. Thomas Reck, vice commander, U.S. 6th Fleet.
“The U.S. and Gabon have strengthened their cooperation in the maritime sector by more sustained professional exchanges over the years. To better illustrate this strengthening link, in 2014, the U.S. proposed a National Maritime Strategy framework which allows better integration of our maritime wealth. By this gesture, the United States demonstrated their sincere friendship and show the desire they have to support us for the capitalization of what the sea can bring in wealth, and creating the framework and supporting growth,” said General Auguste Roger Bibaye Itandas, Gabonese chief of defense.
Spearhead is currently in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to support partner nation capacity building during its deployment in support of Africa Partnership Station.
While on deployment, Spearhead brings a unique set of capabilities to the U.S. 6th Fleet AOO. Its crew is comprised of Sailors and civil service mariners with a wide range of capabilities from engineering specialist to a fully outfitted embarked security team.
The 338-foot-long aluminum catamaran is capable of carrying 600 tons of military troops, vehicles, supplies, and equipment, and can transit 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots. It has a 20,000-square-foot mission bay area that can be reconfigured to adapt to whatever mission the ship is tasked with. Anything from carrying a containerized portable hospital to supporting disaster relief or transporting tanks and troops.
Spearhead began this scheduled deployment from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Virginia, on Dec. 30, 2015.