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"Kargo Kings" manage huge amino move from Korea.

When tasked with sending years' worth of excess ammunition from the Republic of Korea back to the U.S., the 837th Transportation Battalion, stationed in Daegu, Korea, realized it was in for more than business as usual.

From Aug. 3-11, the Kargo Kings managed the biggest ammunition move in the history of the port at Chinhae, Korea, loading 1,127 containers onto the general cargo ship Black Eagle.

"This has been a total team effort," said Lt. Col. Samuel C. Blanton III, 837th commander. "We began planning for this move three months ago, and started staging at the first of July."


Blanton said the 837th's most important role as single port manager for U.S. Forces Korea is to make sure that every player on the team knows his role during a move.

"There are lots of colonels and lieutenant colonels in theater involved with this move," said Blanton. "It's important for them to know that the 837th has the overall responsibility as the single port manager."

Blanton said the team effort includes the ROK Port Operations Group, Department of the Army civilians, Korean nationals, noncommissioned officers, officers, the Military Sealift Command, the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, and the 6th Ordnance Battalion, which has four support units on the Korean peninsula.

Blanton said he particularly valued the opportunity to work jointly with the ROK Port Operations Group.

Lt. Col. Jung I.K. Hwa, battalion commander for the 665th Port Operations Battalion, stationed at Pusan, Korea, said he also enjoyed working with the Americans.

"I appreciate the chance to work with our U.S. allies," Jung said. "Thanks to them, this has been successful, and I believe in the future it will be successful as well," he said.

Kwak Chong Chu, marine cargo specialist for the 837th, said the two cranes at Chinhae, a smaller and slower harbor crane, and larger and faster gantry crane, move from hold to hold on the ship to ensure the ship is properly balanced for its voyage across the Pacific.

The transportation specialists also made sure the ship was balanced with equal weights from side to side. Heavier loads must be stowed in the bottom of the hold, while lighter containers are stowed on deck after the holds are full and the hatches closed, Kwak said.

Kwak said the team had worked until 7:30 p.m. Aug. 3-4, but had stopped at 6 p.m. Aug. 5 because the crane operators from the 665th Port Operations Battalion had become more proficient at loading.

"As they get more used to operating the cranes, they are able to move faster," he said. "Then we're able to clear the amount we planned for that day earlier," Kwak said.

Blanton said the primary consideration on Aug. 6 was the weather.

"Right now, our major concern is monsoon season and all that ammo out there," he said.

Indeed, most of the daily 3 p.m. status and planning meeting Aug. 6 was devoted to discussion of the next day's weather forecast of thunderstorms, and how that would affect operations.

Some members of the team felt that the group should continue to load until 7:30 p.m. to take advantage of the fair weather that day; however, in the end the majority felt that a thunderstorm would probably only delay work for a maximum of two hours, and a more important consideration was to allow the workers to get a proper rest that night.

"Although rain may slow down the work, it won't halt it," said Kwak, "But all work must stop during thunderstorms because of the wind and lightning."


Just as the weather forecast had predicted, a thunderstorm materialized at Chinhae Aug. 7 and, because of the wind and lightning, work stopped for one and a half hours, but the team took the down time as an early lunch to compensate, and did not lose daylight hours of work, said Luis Lansangan, terminal operations chief for the 837th.

Phillip Moss, quality assurance specialist for ammunition surveillance with the 84th Ordnance Co., said all four ordnance companies in Korea had sent ammunition to be loaded out, and the load out was going smoothly. Moss also said the move had become faster with each successive day of the load-out.

Lansangan said the gantry crane, which had cleared only 75 containers on the first day, was up to 120 containers at its peak, while the harbor crane, which began with 40 pieces the first day, managed to move 75 containers at its peak day during the load out.

Lansangan said the load-out was even smoother at the finish than at the midpoint. All 1,127 pieces had been loaded on the ship Aug. 10 at about 7:30 p.m. The team finished final lashing down of containers and all documentation by Aug. 11 at 11 a.m., and the Black Eagle was underway by 1 p.m.

Moss said that because of a new agreement between the ROK and U.S. governments, the retrograde ammunition moves will become larger and more frequent than in years past.

"I've done many of these moves, but we used to do only about one on and off load a year. For the next five years at least we will be doing three to four a year," Moss said.

The Koreans from the 665th Port Operations Battalion and the Americans from the 837th Transportation Battalion will continue to work every ammunition move together.

Lansangan said, "The 837th Kargo King team is excited about the next ammo on-load which will be even bigger."

Jung said the stepped-up schedule of moves will affect also his battalion positively.

"Being busy is always good," said Jung. "This is our job and we just do our job."

By Donna Klapakis

Command Affairs Officer

599th Transportation Group
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Title Annotation:837th Transportation Battalion
Author:Klapakis, Donna
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2009
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