CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The length of three football fields and seven decks high, the USNS Pomeroy (T-AKR 316) is no doubt a big ship -- but it’s also a floating warehouse.
The massive roll on/roll off cargo vessel is one of several in the Military Sealift Command, or MSC, inventory that transports and stores military equipment and supplies as part of the Army Prepositioned Stocks, or APS, program.
The ship’s huge interior boasts more than 350,000 square feet of space, filled top to bottom with equipment and medical supplies. It’s everything troops would need to respond to a contingency -- earning its reputation as a pivotal piece of the Army’s power projection.
“APS, afloat and overseas, is essential to Army readiness,” said Col. Gary Cooper, commander of Army Medical Logistics Command. “By storing equipment and supplies in forward environments and at sea, we can deploy troops faster and improve sustainment capability worldwide.”
The equipment aboard the APS-3 vessels is maintained by the Army Field Support Battalion-Charleston, located at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina. Following their maintenance cycle, the equipment is loaded onto MSC vessels to ensure readiness for rapid deployment in support of combatant commanders’ requirements during competition, crisis or conflict.
“APS-3 is the Army’s only prepositioned equipment set afloat which provides the warfighter flexibility and agility,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Manganaro, commander of AFSBn-Charleston. “Our battalion is responsible for the readiness and accountability of the Army Prepositioned Stocks afloat.”
“It’s an intricate ballet of moving materiel from one ship to the next, while completing the maintenance and rotating out stocks that are close to expiration,” explained James Gerrard, APS-3 (medical) site manager.
In February 2023, Gerrard led a team of biomedical equipment specialists from the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency, augmented with Army Reserve Soldiers from the 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support) and members of the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity, to complete a ship cycle.
The teams collected more than 50 containers, each 20 feet long and called “milvans,” filled with medical devices and supplies from the returning APS ship and completed required maintenance, as well as refreshing shelf-life items.
The team is required to complete a maintenance cycle ahead of the next vessel arrival in Charleston adding a time element and urgency to do inventory, inspect and upgrade equipment, and restock any expired materiel before the next vessel departs.
“When a ship docks, it is imperative that our team gets their hands on that medical equipment so we can perform maintenance within the given timeframe before the next ship departs,” said Maj. Janessa Moyer, director of USAMMA’s Force Projection Directorate. “Everyone understands that we must stay on schedule and make it on the ship for maximum capability forward.”
Moyer added that the mission was a success and a great experience for those involved, providing the team with an opportunity to see first-hand how medical materiel is part of battlefield readiness.
USAMMA is a direct reporting unit to Army Medical Logistics Command, the Army’s life cycle management command for medical materiel. AMLC executes the medical materiel management functions for combatant commands in order to set and sustain operational medical capabilities in all phases in response to Large Scale Combat Operations, or LSCO, and Multi-domain Operations, or MDO.
Content contribution from Katie Nelson, 402nd AFSB public affairs officer.