Expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Choctaw County (T-EPF 2) arrived in Beirut, Lebanon, Sept. 20, to participate in U.S. Naval Forces Central Command’s (NAVCENT) first-ever Central Partnership Station (CPS) mission. The CPS mission in Lebanon is designed to build partner capacity through subject-matter-expert exchanges, enhancing interoperability and the military-to-military relationship between the U.S. Navy and Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). The mission includes a series of subject-matter-expert exchanges between LAF and NAVCENT personnel on mine countermeasures, disaster response, public health and construction capabilities.
“This is a new opportunity for the U.S. Navy to work with our Lebanese counterparts,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of NAVCENT, U.S. 5th Fleet, and Combined Maritime Forces. “We are ushering in a new era of strengthening and expanding capacity building across the region.”
USNS Choctaw County (JHSV-2/T-EPF-2), (ex-Vigilant) is the second Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport, which is part of the United States Military Sealift Command and was built in Mobile, Alabama. Choctaw County can transport US Army and US Marine Corps company-sized units with their vehicles, or reconfigure to become a troop transport for an infantry battalion. It has a flight deck for helicopter operations and a loading ramp that allows vehicles to quickly drive on and off the ship. The ramp is suitable for the types of austere piers and quay walls common in developing countries. EPF has a shallow draft (under 15 feet (4.6 m)).
U.S. forces working alongside their LAF counterparts include the Choctaw County, explosive ordnance disposal technicians and Navy divers, a medical and health engagement team and a Seabee construction battalion. Seabees are constructing a maritime security support facility with LAF engineers. The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses nearly 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The region is comprised of 21 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab-al-Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.