Since July, Military Sealift command’s Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS City of Bismarck (T-EPF 9) has supported Marines taking part in Koa Moana 21 in the Republic of Palau. Koa Moana, which means “Ocean Warrior,” is designed to strengthen and enhance relationships between the United States and partner nations in the Indo-Pacific region, improve interoperability with local security establishments and serve as a humanitarian assistance survey team afloat in support of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command strategic and operational objectives.
In addition to the civil service mariners aboard USNS City of Bismarck, approximately 200 U.S. Marines and Sailors from 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Logistics Group, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and I MEF Information Group and Coast Guardsmen from Coast Guard District 14 are taking part in Koa Moana 21. Participants, like the USNS City of Bismarck crew, take part in exercise activities that enhance interoperability necessary during humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations. These include engineering projects on the island of Peleliu and the capital island, Babeldaob.
During one interagency law enforcement training event, the crew of USNS City of Bismarck, U.S. Marines and agents with the Palau Narcotics Enforcement Agency conducted training with a team of canine working dogs. USNS City of Bismarck performed various other functions during Koa Moana, providing the Marines involved with a base of operations that includes berthing, flexible meal times, communications support, including secure communications, and working spaces for exercise planners. Martino explains that the civil service mariners onboard modified their daily routines to ensure mission success and maximum flexibility.
USNS City of Bismarck continues to support the exercise, which runs through December. Military Sealift Command Far East ensures approximately 50 ships in the Indo-Pacific region, including City of Bismarck, are manned, trained and equipped to deliver essential supplies, fuel, cargo and equipment to warfighters, both at sea and on shore. As the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed fleet, 7th Fleet employs 50-70 ships and submarines across the Western Pacific and Indian oceans. U.S. 7th Fleet routinely operates and interacts with 35 maritime nations while conducting missions to preserve and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific Region.