The SS Curtiss, with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16 forward embarked, is deployed in support of Immortal Warrior 23, an exercise which activates the Maritime Administration-operated ship to provide expeditionary intermediate-level aircraft maintenance and supply for U.S. and potentially Allied and Partner forces.
The SS Curtiss is a civilian-manned Aviation Logistics Support Ship (T-AVB 4) with a Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron detachment, along with aircraft artisans from Fleet Readiness Centers, aboard. The detachment can perform intermediate and depot-level maintenance and aircraft battle damage repair. Its purpose is to ensure that Marine Corps aircraft remain in mission-capable condition, ready to support military operations whenever and wherever they are needed.
“The TAVB provides the forward-deployed aviation combat element with an afloat expeditionary [intermediate]-level repair capability similar to the MALS we have at home field. This provides us with the ability to rapidly repair components above the [organizational]-level without the need to send it all the way back to the rear, enabling rapid force deployment in any location,” said LtCol Brandon “Jammer” Pope, VMM-268 commanding officer.
Photo by Cpl. Kyle Chan
U.S. Marines, with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, signals to a MV-22B Osprey with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 268, 1st MAW, aboard the SS Curtis (T-AVB-4) during Balikatan 23 off the coast of the Philippines, April 18, 2023. Balikatan 23 is the 38th iteration of the annual bilateral exercise between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the U.S. military. The exercise includes three weeks of training focused on amphibious operations, command and control, humanitarian assistance, urban operations and counterterrorism skills throughout northern and western Luzon. Coastal defense training figures prominently in the Balikatan 23 training schedule.
The deployment of the SS Curtiss to the Philippines for Exercise Balikatan 23 is a testament to the Marine Corps' commitment to maintaining a high level of readiness and flexibility in its operations. The ship's ability to support Marine, joint, and potentially Allied and Partner aircraft during training highlights its versatility and adaptability.
“Beyond sustaining aviation operations, the T-AVB also provides opportune lift solutions to combatant commanders to rapidly transport forces and equipment with the organic capability to operate afloat and ashore,” said Maj William Dunst, T-AVB commander of troops.
This capability provides combined and joint forces in-stride solutions to problems that occur during exercises, crisis, or conflict. LtCol Pope spoke to the speed of the T-AVB support which is “weeks faster than if we had to wait on the supply system from MALS to ship the same components.”
The flexibility this model provides to the Marine Corps and the joint, combined force ensures crisis response and support to contingency operations for a wide range of possible challenges and threats. The unique utilization of maritime aviation logistics support capability shows other forces that we’re postured and ready for any opportunity or threat in the region.
The SS Curtiss is currently conducting a community outreach event during a port visit in the Republic of Palau.