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NEWS | Dec. 15, 2014

USNS Watkins moors at JB Charleston, ASLAC on-loads equipment

By Senior Airman Tom Brading Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

The USNS Watkins (T-AKR 315) arrived at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., Dec. 5, 2014, to load tons of military gear into its 394,000 square foot cargo stowage area.

And that will take time as the ship's carrying capacity is larger than seven football fields.

This on-load mission is conducted by the Army Strategic Logistics Activity - Charleston and its team of 34 Department of Defense civilians, nine military service members and numerous contractors, along with the Army's 841st Transportation Battalion also located at JB Charleston.

"We've scheduled 10 working days to complete the on-load," said Robert O'Brien, ASLAC general manager. "However, we could always complete the mission sooner."

Watkins is one of 19 large, medium-speed (24 knots), roll-on/roll-off ships belonging to the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command.

Once loaded with military combat and combat support equipment, the Watkins will be prepositioned overseas, capable of re-supplying the nation's armed forces during contingencies or a national crisis.

Before the on-load begins, all of the military cargo is inspected, road tested, serviced and repaired as necessary by ASLAC to meet Army standards. A

dditionally, thousands of pieces of equipment are processed, packaged and stored onto the backs of cargo carriers or loaded into containers. The Army continually upgrades the Army Prepositioned Stock (APS)-3  equipment. Finally, the cargo is labeled for accountability and convoyed back to Wharf Alpha to be loaded onboard.

"From a military stand point, it's important to know the capabilities Charleston has," said O'Brien. "Team Charleston supports the warfighter with land, sea and air."