Military Sealift Command Navy Reserve Force symposium includes tour of USNS Montford Point

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Brian Cavanaugh, commanding general, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic, Marine Forces Command, Marine Forces Northern Command; U.S. Navy Capt. James Murdock, commander, Military Sealift Command Atlantic; the Honorable Charles F. Bolden Jr., 12th administrator of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); and Mrs. Alexis Bolden, the ship’s sponsor – here with members of American Maritime Officers First Assistant Engineer Mike Long, Chief Engineer Rob Mussler, Captain Joshua Jordan and Third Mate Steven Corachan – toured the USNS Montford Point (T-ESD-1) at Norfolk Naval Station on November 9, 2023. Charles Bolden and Alexis Bolden visited and spoke about the history of Montford Point Marines with the leadership and the crew of the USNS Montford Point. The ship was christened on November 13, 2012.

The following is excerpted from an article written by Hendrick Dickson, Military Sealift Command.

Military Sealift Command hosted a four-day symposium for its Navy Reserve Force in November at Naval Station Norfolk so that Navy Reserve enlisted Sailors could gain a better understanding of the command’s mission.

More than 100 Reservists attended the symposium, which included 40 hours of reserve unit training, MSC 101 – Ship Program Manager classes, Job Qualification Requirements and general military training. MSC Deputy Commander Rear Adm. Jeffery Spivey and Force Master Chief Steven Bosco also addressed the Sailors.

The symposium allowed reservists to connect with MSC’s active duty Sailors during joint command quarters, led by MSC Chief of Staff Capt. Daniel Broadhurst. They also held joint training sessions.

“We began to plan the symposium earlier in the year with the intent to bring Sailors here to train together,” said MSC Far East Command Senior Chief William O’Connell. “The training was invaluable to gain a better understanding of MSC, while providing an opportunity for MSC Sailors to learn from other units and fellow enlisted Sailors from across the country.”

Military Sealift Command Headquarters Command Senior Chief Lynita King said many of those in attendance were newly assigned to MSC and were not as familiar with the command’s mission. The symposium gave those reservists a firsthand look at how MSC operates.

“We’ve never had an enlisted symposium where we bought reservists to MSC to get together and see what we do and how we function,” she said. “We had some who have only been with MSC for less than a year and had no idea of the magnitude of the role MSC plays in the overall defense of our nation.”

MSC has more than 900 reserve members who augment the headquarters staff and area commands. They support units, including Expeditionary Port Units that provide port opening and management capabilities and Cargo Afloat Rig Team units that augment Combat Logistics Force during operational surges.

MSC Force Master Chief Steven Bosco said this symposium helped to build bridges between the Reserve force and the more than 6,500 Civil Service Mariners (CIVMARS), civilian support staff and active duty service members at MSC.

“Now more than ever it is important for the MSC team to work together,” said Bosco. “We are a very diverse team consisting of CIVMARs, civilian personnel and military. Our reserve component is at least two times larger than our active duty competent. With that in mind, a large percentage of our reservists are enlisted and often don’t get to hear or have input on their responsibilities when called to fight. This symposium was all about aligning the team to the mission and how vital a role our reserve component plays.”

The highlight of the symposium was a tour aboard Expeditionary Transfer Dock vessel USNS Montford Point, where Sailors learned about the vessel’s mission and toured the bridge, engineering spaces and other areas. The tour left an impression on the group.

The Montford Point crew really did a great job showing what it is like to be a mariner on an MSC vessel, said King. “They were really excited about their job.”

With the success of the first symposium and positive feedback, MSC plans to make it an annual event and to perhaps expand it to MSC Pacific in the future.

“Our intent is to continue this event yearly and host it on the West Coast as well to accommodate the maximum number of Sailors,” said O’Connell.