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Turning Pacific Oil Rigs into Mobile Defense

The US Navy’s Plan to Turn Unused Oil Rigs into Mobile Military Bases

The Navy planning to convert surplus oil rigs into missile bases. Called the Mobile Defense/Depot Platform (MODEP), it was presented at the Sea Air Space 2024 exposition to strengthen America’s national strength in the Pacific.

The Plan

The benefits of MODEP are multifaceted. First, these new missile bases significantly increase the US defense capabilities in the Pacific. The missile bases will possess 512 vertical launch cells or 100 large missile launchers, roughly 5 times to firepower of an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. This will boost America’s air defense capabilities in the Pacific. Additionally, these bases will be able to supply and repair naval units like nuclear submarines and provide logistical support. They will be able to sustain themselves for periods of up to 12 months. Another benefit is the cost and the speed at which MODEP can be implemented. Gibbs & Cox, the company behind MODEP, claims that there are 4-6 oil rig platforms and each one can be converted for 10% of the cost of a new ballistic missile defense system. They have also claimed that the excess in the oil market can be converted for military use within 24 months.


Like all other plans, not everyone can be pleased. Experts have raised concerns about high maintenance costs, the weakness to missiles, and the ineffectiveness of the oil rigs. However, recent studies have proven otherwise. These studies counter by reinstating the importance of sea bases due to improved communication and the potential for rapid strikes. While the threat of area attacks cannot be denied, the study raises concerns about whether this threat can be addressed by air and missile defense mechanisms. The fate of MODEP is still undetermined as both sides are being argued for. The future of MODEP relies on the resolve to the challenges that face it.

The Changing Times

MODEP is part of a shifting military strategy where countries are attempting to connect land-based defense systems to the immense power oceans have to offer. Due to the new geopolitical landscapes, these plans have even more value and can pave the way for other plans of similar nature to follow.



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