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NEWS | Feb. 10, 2022

Prepositioning Ship Trains with Air Force During Exercise Cope North

Leslie Hull-Ryde

PHILIPPINE SEA -- Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) civil service mariners aboard USNS Dahl (T AKR 312) helped train U.S. Air Force crews while underway in the Philippine Sea, as part of Exercise Cope North 22 (CN22), Feb. 7-8.

CN22 is a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) exercise that includes Australian, Japanese and U.S. forces and takes place in a number of locations. Training events occur in Guam, Saipan, Tinian, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia – and aboard Dahl.

While Cope North enhances the combined interoperability of the three nations so they are ready to respond together to a natural disaster in the Indo-Pacific Region, the exercise also increases the joint capabilities of Dahl and the U.S. Air Force.

“Dahl’s flight deck provided a platform of opportunity for Air Force pilots to gain their deck landing qualifications,” said Capt. Michael S. Lee, master of the ship.

“This critical training may have a direct impact on our joint response in support of the region.”

The master says that in addition to actually executing the DLQs, the planning prior to the shipboard events, coupled with exchanges of information, sharing tactics, techniques and procedures and coordinating communications proved equally important.

As part of Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron 3, Dahl strategically places containerized and palletized cargo throughout the region for all U.S. Armed Services, including the Air Force. This capability ensures critical supplies are delivered where and when needed and enables U.S. forces to rapidly respond to HA/DR efforts.

“Prepositioning facilitates recovery from the devastating effects of natural disasters. MSC and our civil service and contract mariners are fully qualified and ready to support any mission that needs to get done,” Lee said.

“Without U.S. mariners, the logistics flow would stop, and the supply chain would break.”

Although the Air Force crews benefitted from Dahl’s participation, Lee explained that civil service mariners did as well. The Fortuna, California, native said Cope North refined MSC crew members’ readiness as they practiced skills they learned in requisite training before serving on the ship.

He added that Cope North also presented opportunities to increase the awareness of Military Sealift Command between other services and among other nations.

“This is a great opportunity for our crew to interact with the [Air Force] and inform active duty persons in other [Department of Defense] communities who U.S. Merchant Marines, including civil service and contract mariners, are and what we do.

“United States merchant mariners have a longstanding history of working with and supporting our active-duty military members,” Lee said.

“This interaction solidifies that we are ‘part of the team.’”

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