Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort --
The low-lying swamps and mountainous jungles of Vietnam made providing aircraft maintenance for forward deployed aircraft and Marines a struggle in the 1950s and 1960s.
Without hangars and enclosed working spaces, some more sensitive or delicate repairs were time-consuming or impossible in the field.
Now, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 and other MALS rely on the mobile maintenance facilities on the van pad to accomplish their daily mission, deployed and in garrison.
“We don’t deploy to locations where there are hangars already built and office spaces where we can take all our equipment,” said Kelly. “It’s important for us to be able to be mobile.”
Mobile maintenance facilities are similar to small trailers, customized for specific jobs.
“They can be put on an airplane or put on a ship and taken wherever they needed to go,” said Capt. Brian Kelly, officer in charge of avionics for MALS-31. “[Without this capability] it would be impossible for us to deploy the way we deploy now.”
This ability allows MALS-31 to rapidly respond to crisis situations to provide necessary intermediate level aviation maintenance. Intermediate level maintenance includes such capabilities as avionics, hydraulics, and airframe maintenance.
Part of the method MALS use to deploy across the Marine Corps includes two merchant ships, SS Wright on the east coast and SS Curtiss on the west coast.
Each ship can deploy with over 300 operational mobile maintenance facilities and is indefinitely sustainable. The same deployment using C-17s would require 125 lifts.
Marines train biennially to maintain their knowledge on how to load and unload mobile maintenance facilities to and from the ships.