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Barge movements prove critical for move of 1st Infantry Division.

The simultaneous loading of three barge sites proved critical in the movement of 1st Infantry Division equipment from Germany as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Transporters with the Rhine River Detachment loaded equipment in barges at Bamberg, Aschaffenburg and Mannheim during the last two weeks of January.

In all, 45 percent of the equipment of the 1st Infantry Division, or some 4,500 vehicles, moved by barge.

Use of the Main and

Rhine rivers proved an efficient transportation means for moving the Wurzburg-based division to the port of embarkation at Antwerp, Belgium. Depending on their departure points, it took 55-110 hours for a loaded barge to arrive at Antwerp.

Approximately 20 prime movers and 20 trailers could be loaded for a typical 2,500-metric ton barge. Cargo loading is relatively fast as no blocking and bracing is required as the barges ride smoothly in the water.

Depending on loading capacities of the sites, cargoes were shifted to maintain movement momentum.

At all barge sites the contractor provides port handling. Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division parked their vehicles at the barge loading sites and then boarded buses to return to their home installations.

Host nation guard forces provided security.

The winter season proved to be one of the biggest challenges. Low water and ice were challenges to the mission. The biggest challenge, however, turned out to be high water.

In a two-day period, the Rhine and Main Rivers went from low water to high water. This high water stopped barge movement for two days and forced the rescheduling of a helicopter-loading mission in Lampertheim to the following week.

Equipment in Bamberg was shifted to Aschaffenburg. Transportation crews worked 24 hours a day to ensure cargoes made the available load dates in Antwerp.

Review of the operation found many advantages to using barges. Barges are an efficient way to move large quantities of equipment, barring the effects of the weather. The advantages of barges includes:

* Soldiers are freed from blocking and bracing work.

* Overhead covers conceal the barge cargoes.

* Barge transit falls under the international maritime roles, allowing the easy crossing of borders.

* Design of barges allows for movement of hazardous materials.
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Author:Jorgensen, Ian
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Mar 22, 2004
Previous Article:Poor weather demands greater port work safety.
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