MTMC coordinates creative resupply missions.
An Army supply vessel proved to be the key factor. The Fort Eustis, Va., based logistics support vessel, LTG William B. Bunker, was tapped for both a highly unusual sea-to-air cargo discharge and as a temporary storage site for Hellfire missiles.
The solution was formally developed by Capt. Kyle Reichle, an Army Reserve officer serving as Acting Commander of MTMC Kuwait Detachment.
The first call for assistance came from the U.S. Army's Camp Doha, Kuwait. After several resupply efforts to deliver critically needed parts for Australian helicopters had failed, 1st Lt. Delia McKelvey called upon MTMC for help. Along with Sgt. 1st Class Carla Watson and Sgt. 1st Class Sharon Davis, Reichle approached Chief Warrant Officer Patrick May, Captain of the Bunker, with a unique proposal: A sling load of the aircraft rep. air parts would be put on the vessel, which would then stand off into the Persian Gulf. The cargo would be lifted directly from the vessel's deck by helicopter.
"The weather cooperated with us," said Chief Warrant Officer Joen Petersen, the Bunker's Executive Officer.
As the Australian helicopter hovered over the ship, Army crewmembers attached cargo loads to the aircraft's lifting straps. The cargo was then lifted to its customer, an Australian naval vessel.
"It was a most unique ship-to-air resupply mission, the first in the vessel's history," said a proud Petersen. "The crew executed flawlessly."
In the dramatic operation, Reichle was an unusual participant. Normally, he is an Active Guard-Reserve officer assigned to the 1194th Transportation Battalion, Mobile, Ala. What is he doing in Kuwait?
Reichle was selected for a 179-day temporary tour of active duty. During the time of the operation, Reichle was serving as the Acting Commander of the Kuwait Detachment.
Reichle's creative approaches to transportation challenges did not end there--a second joint MTMC and Bunker partnership was yet to come.
Under Reichle's leadership, the MTMC team assisted the Bunker in the conduct of the first U.S. in-stream upload of ammunition in the Persian Gulf. The mission: Deliver a resupply of Hellfire missiles.
The missiles were on board the Cornhusker State, a U.S. Maritime Administration Ready Reserve Force ship under Military Sealift Command's operational control. The munitions cargo could not be discharged, as it exceeded the limit allowed in the Kuwaiti port.
Working closely with Military Sealift Command representatives, the 831st Transportation Battalion's Kuwait detachment soldiers developed a solution: An in-stream discharge of cargo from the Cornhusker State to the Bunker.
"It was an outstanding opportunity for us," said May.
For the discharge, May carefully navigated the Bunker alongside the bigger vessel. To ensure safety, great caution was used. To accomplish the discharge, cranes from the Cornhusker State were used to discharge the missiles onboard the Bunker.
"Sounds easy," said Petersen. "Only problem is the Cornhusker State is huge compared to the logistics support vessel. When the crane was loading the containers on our deck, the operator could not see exactly what was happening."
The crane operator watched a signalman on the Cornhusker State, who was relaying the signals from Petersen onboard the Bunker.
"We took this slow and easy," said May.
The discharge mission was a success.
The work of the 831st Transportation Battalion and the Bunker did not end there. Other missions have included work with a multitude of coalition partners. The diversity of cargo and missions has included movements of ammunition, materiel-handling equipment, food and Christmas mail. The experience has developed a seasoned and well-trained crew, said May. The heavy workload, he said, has produced quality training and excitement--and no complaints from the crew.
"The crew, composed mostly of new soldiers, has really come together," said May.
The Bunker left Fort Eustis on Oct. 22. Up to that time, the vessel had steamed 16,000 miles in a transit of the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea and Persian Gulf. In one 73-day period, the vessel and crew were under way 66 days.
MTMC is the provider of choice in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, said Maj. Robert Russell Jr., Executive Officer, 831st Transportation Battalion.
"We are the ones that conduct or assist vessel discharge and port clearance of U.S. military cargo in this area," said Russell. "Also, coalition partner nations are turning to us for assistance on a regular basis.
"We are the only ones in this area of operations who do the routine loading and discharge missions of such cargoes as ammunition and equipment and port clearance missions," added Russell.
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|Title Annotation:||Military Traffic Management Command|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2002|
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