Military launches new delivery system

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OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- The U.S. Navy and Marines conducted a military exercise Friday to demonstrate the effectiveness of seabasing, a new concept that brings military response efforts to a new level.

"Seabasing provides the ability to take a larger vessel down to sea level where we can rapidly deposit our troops, equipment or resources to a natural disaster or combat situation," said Maj. Staci Reidinger of the Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

For the “Pacific Horizon” drill, the USNS Dahl was stationed about 16 nautical miles offshore from Oceanside. The ship responded to the fictitious nation of Acadia where two hurricanes struck and left the port city incapacitated.

Three landing craft air cushions (LCACs) were busy loading and transporting supplies, equipment and personnel from the mobile landing platform to the USNS Montford Point.

"The Montford Point is the first MLP," said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Tague, one of the officers aboard. He said the MLP is what makes seabasing possible.

"We bring the two ships together by tethering the Montford Point to the Dahl," Tague said. "Then we're able to move supplies and equipment down a vehicle transfer ramp."

The cargo is then loaded onto the LCACs, which take it to shore.

"Sometimes we have larger ships that are not able to make it closer to shore," Reidinger said. "These ships may be in hostile zones, or perhaps we don't have an agreement with the local government to come ashore."

"With this system, we're able to speed up the process offloading vehicles, personnel at a much faster pace," Tague said.

Seabasing provides the ability to support up to 15,000 troops for as long as 45 days deployed in any environment.

"We are self-contained and self-sufficient," said Rear Adm. Frank Ponds of Expeditionary Strike Group III.

"Coming from the sea, it allows our nation to do our mission right -- at the right level, at the right location and at the right time," said Brig. Gen. Joaquin Malavet of Expeditionary Strike Group III.

The Montford Point is the first of four MLPs commissioned.  Three others are being built, and two of the later ships will have the capability to provide air support.

Once the evaluation process is complete, the Montford Point will be ready for deployment by spring of 2015.​