MV Ocean Grand participates in Military Sealift Command, Africa joint exercise

<em>MV Ocean Grand</em> participates in Military Sealift Command, Africa joint exercise

U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command (MSC) Expeditionary Port Unit (EPU), a team made up of five Navy Reserve personnel, assisted with the offload of U.S. Army equipment from MSC’s voyage-charter MV Ocean Grand cargo vessel for the largest yearly exercise hosted by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), African Lion 2023, May 12 – 16.

Members of EPU 105 and EPU 106 joined Military Sealift Command Europe and Africa (MSCEURAF) Marine Transportation Specialist (MTS) Willie Jones to coordinate the equipment offload that included tactical vehicles, armor, and multiple containers of supplies in support of the combined, joint exercise that takes place in Morocco, Djibouti, Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia. According to the AFRICOM website, 18 nations and approximately 8,000 personnel are participating in the exercise.

“The EPUs have built a great relationship with MSCEURAF,” said Cmdr. James Conway, EPU 105 commanding officer. “Being able to support real world MSCEURAF and CTF (Commander, Task Force) 63 operations greatly prepares Reserve Sailors for the EPU mission.”

Conway explained that Expeditionary Port Units are in a slightly unique position and are able to deploy with relatively short notice anywhere in the world and establish themselves as a bridge between the world of shipping, the local host nation, and the client. “We are also able to assist in the delivery of aid or other cargo wherever needed,” added Conway.

EPU team members for the first phase of the exercise deployment included Conway, Chief Hospital Corpsman Matthew Lavengood, Information Systems Technician First Class Matthew Bedynek, all from EPU 105, and Lt. Cmdr. Cliff Golon, EPU 106 executive officer.

“The flexibility to deliver on demand, while getting to experience other cultures and peoples is an amazing opportunity to serve our nation,” said Golon. “MSC’s EPUs support missions all over the world; MCSEURAF’s three EPUs, 104, 105 and 106, cover the two continents of Europe and Africa so there is no shortage meaningful missions.”

American Maritime Officers represents all licensed officers aboard the Ocean Grand, which is operated by Patriot Shipping LLC. in the Maritime Security Program fleet.

The next phase of the EPU African Lion 2023 mission will be loading the equipment on a vessel after the exercise concludes on June 18.