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US Army-Navy logistics operation takes shape

Military Sealift Command Bob Hope-class large, medium speed roll-on/roll-off ship USNS Benavidez (T-AKR 306) (pictured) is supporting the Pentagon's mission to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza in the coming months. (US Navy)

A US Navy's large, medium speed roll-on, roll-off ship (LMSR) has been deployed in support of the US Army's joint logistics over-the-shore (JLOTS) operation to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza, according to a navy announcement on 21 March.

Bob Hope-class MV Roy P Benavidez (T-AKR 306) departed from Newport News, Virginia, on 21 March to meet up with the army's 7th Transportation Brigade, which is “on plan” to build a floating pier to transport aid within a 60-day timeline, a navy official told reporters on 20 March. The collaboration with the navy is a “routine” operation with the army, and the service is bringing lessons learned from the most recent international exercise in 2023, including how the command-and-control (C2) structure will work.

MV Roy P Benavidez is part of the US Maritime Administration's (MARAD's) Ready Reserve Fleet but is being operated by contracted merchant mariners under Military Sealift Command on its way out to the JLOTS operation. A dry cargo surge sealift carrier, it transports containerised cargo and rolling stock with a maximum payload of 380,000 sq ft.

Naval Beach Group One, an amphibious unit based in Coronado, California, is aboard the vessel and is tasked with building a logistics beachhead that can distribute goods. The army is providing the floating causeway – the Trident Pier – that will help the navy transport cargo off its Improved Navy Lighterage System (INLS) Warping Tug and onto the pier that the army is building, according to the navy official.

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