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SDDC sidesteps Hurricane Ivan.

Hurricane Ivan kept the USNS Watkins in port for a few extra days, but it did not deter the Port of Beaumont's first shipment of cargo for Operation Iraqi Freedom III.

Originally scheduled to depart Sept. 12, the Watkins finally sailed Sept. 18 from the Texas port.

The hurricane made landfall Sept. 16 on the Gulf Coast of Alabama.

As the Military Sealift Command ship waited out the storm, cargo continued to roll into ports. Once the storm passed, the Watkins was diverted to Corpus Christi, Texas, to pick up more cargo before sailing for Southwest Asia.

Watkins first arrived in Beaumont Sept. 7. Members of the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's 842nd Transportation Battalion immediately began a simultaneous discharge-and reloading.

"This is another example of how the team works," said Lt. Cmdr. John Williams, 842nd deputy commander. "We use our resources in the most efficient way possible."

To "Team Beaumont" this is just another day in the long stream of shipments. All equipment has a location allocated for it before it arrives at the port. The equipment is staged in the proper lots to make sure the proper equipment is loaded on the correct ship.

Williams said it took the team 21 hours to unload the ship and 19 hours to load the 700 pieces of equipment headed for Operation Iraq Freedom. The USNS Watkins is 950-feet long and can carry 393,000 square feet of cargo.

"Staging is essential to proper distribution of the equipment," said Williams. "We pride ourselves in a 30-day turnaround for our shipments and our teamwork makes this happen."

With the departure of the Watkins, the Beaumont unit is looking ahead to more Operation Iraqi Freedom III cargoes.

Since the beginning of OIF and Operation Enduring Freedom, the members of the terminal port unit have moved an incredible 10.7-million-square-feet of military equipment.

"Team Beaumont has already been to the Super Bowl with OIF II," said Williams. "We are on our way to our second Super Bowl."

An absolutely essential element to the team effort, said Williams, is Army Reservists with the 1192nd Transportation Terminal Brigade, of New Orleans. Other key players include the port of Beaumont, Military Sealift Command, Department of Agriculture, Port Support Activity and stevedores.

LaWanda York, Public Affairs Specialist SDDC Headquarters
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Title Annotation:Surface Deployment and Distribution Command
Author:York, LaWanda
Publication:Translog
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:Sep 22, 2004
Words:382
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