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NAVELSF finds talent within HQ, battalion to conduct convoy from Texas to Virginia.

The right people, the right mission, the right time came together for a perfect opportunity to provide and share convoy training experience as well as save the Navy some money.

With the upcoming deactivation of Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 6, ten trucks, tractors, trailers and vehicles in Orange, Texas, needed to be relocated more than 1,300 miles to Naval Expeditionary Logistics Support Force headquarters in Williamsburg, Va.

With some out-of-the-box thinking, NAVELSF came up with a plan to transport the vehicles. NAVELSF and NCHB-1 Sailors with convoy experience paired up with other Sailors wanting convoy experience.

The trip began with the convoy traveling empty to Texas to pick up the gear, completion of required final load preparations on-site, and transport to Williamsburg. The convoy took five days and saved the Navy more than $52,000 by not having to contract out the job of transporting the equipment.

NAVELSF combat logistics department identified Sailors within the department as well as NCHB-1 with unique driving skills, experience or potential and desire to participate in a convoy to drive these vehicles to Cheatham Annex (CAX), Williamsburg, from Orange, Texas, said CDR Danny Motley, NAVELSF Director of Combat Logistics and convoy commander.

Normally, long haul convoy operations are not necessarily part of job descriptions of Navy Cargo Handlers, Motley said. "The combination of varied in-house skills as well as experience provided by Seabees within NAVELSF provided the talent pool to make this happen," he said.

"The idea derived from the need to move all the equipment belonging to NCHB-6 to [Cheatham Annex]. Originally, we considered storage at Gulfport, Miss., but settled on CAX for immediate oversight on maintenance of the equipment.

"We considered options for shipment: commercial, extremely expensive; convoy by NCHB-6, since their recent deployment, it was determined that their assets would be better utilized in the other actions required for disestablishment of the unit; convoy by NAVELSF staff and NCHB 1. The staff has extensive experience in convoys and NCHB-1 mentioned a desire to work a long convoy for experience for their personnel," Motley said.

Preparations for the convoy included determining the best route, layovers--hotels for each evening--and places to store the equipment each evening, Motley said.

"This was the tough part--not every hotel has a big enough parking lot for a convoy of this size," Motley said. In addition, contingencies for breakdowns were considered and construction mechanics were among the crew along with some spare parts, tool kits, a wrecker, and extra tractors.

Motley and Master Chief Equipment Operator Charles Boris put the convoy together from the planning stage to the execution.

Boris, who served as assistant convoy commander, load planner and tractor trailer driver, has been on countless convoys during his 30-year Navy Seabee career.

The most challenging aspect of the convoy, Boris said was, "Ensuring that all tractor trailer drivers and their secondary loads completed the mission safely."

Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Ben Hansen, who is assigned to NCHB 1 BOSN locker and normally gets hatch boxes ready for detachments, willingly volunteered to be part of the convoy, in part, to get more hours toward his tractor trailer license.

In addition to the practical work experience, there were other benefits. Hansen said he enjoyed seeing part of the country he hadn't seen before and working with people he doesn't usually work with on a daily basis.

"I went to parts of the U.S. that I haven't been to before and doing it this way I got to see a lot of the country--like going through the swamps in Louisiana," Hansen said.

Construction Mechanic 3rd Class (SCW) Christopher T. Amburgy, NCHB 1 construction mechanic with six years in the Navy, said the best part of the trip was seeing places he'd never heard of before like Orange, Texas.

Amburgy served as a driver for a Tru Hitch to tow a 15-ton tractor and said the trip was "a piece of cake."

"It wasn't as nerve racking as the [convoys] in Kuwait and Iraq," Amburgy said.

Hansen summed up most participants' experience, "It was a great trip and I am glad I got to participate in this convoy since the Navy doesn't do them very often. It was something very different than your everyday job--that was a good change and a lot of fun. I would do it again if another one every came up and I was able to."

"This convoy was a great experience for our young drivers, some their first time as long haulers--and memories that will last a very long time," Boris said.

All in all, eight Sailors from NCHB 1 and five Sailors from NAVELSF joined forces to complete this task, expanded their base of experience and saved the Navy money.

The equipment will be stored at Cheatham Annex and will used to support Sorts Validations, NCHB 1 operations and other future requirements. "This will ensure the equipment remains in a steady state for deployment at any time," Motley said.

Convoy in Summary

Equipment Transported:

1 SUV

1 LSSV (pickup truck)

1 15-ton stake truck with 3 tricons

1 Tractor w/ true hitch (it looks like a wrecker)--pulling another tractor

1 Tractor w/ low boy trailer--with 10K forklift and golf cart mounted

1 Tractor w/ high boy trailer--with 2 pickup trucks loaded

1 Tractor w/ high boy trailer--with 20' container and 1 forklift

1 Tractor w/ high boy trailer--with 3 forklifts

1 Tractor w/ high boy trailer--with 2 light plants and 1 forklift

1 Tractor w/ low boy trailer--with tractor mounted

Distance and Time: 2,522 miles--5 days

Routes: From Orange, Texas to Williamsburg.

Outbound route: Williamsburg--Atlanta--Montgomery--Mobile--Orange.

Inbound route: Orange--Baton Rouge--Bessemer--Atlanta--Williamsburg.

Convoy Participants: BM2 Chris Amburgy, SWC (SCW) Charlie Bailey, CM2 Willie Barkley, EQCM Charles Boris, EO3 Jerry Davis, BM2 Ben Hansen, BM1 Charles James, EOC (SCW) Tom McCoy, CM1 Ken McGraw, EO2 Lance Miller, SK2 Gregory Mimms, CDR Danny Motley.

LT Karin Burzynski

Naval Expeditionary Logistics Support Force Public Affairs Officer
COPYRIGHT 2005 U.S. Department of the Navy, Supply Systems Command
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Naval Expeditionary Logistics Support Force
Author:Burzynski, Karin
Publication:Navy Supply Corps Newsletter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2005
Words:989
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