‘Hammerheads’ join with sister services to relocate expensive equipment

| August 18, 2011 | 0 Comments
Co. B, 3rd Bn., 25th GSAB, 25th CAB, 25th ID, uses a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to transport a 12,000-pound buoy from a sandbar in Ulupar Crater to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, recently, to allow the U.S. Coast Guard to recover the buoy.

Co. B, 3rd Bn., 25th GSAB, 25th CAB, 25th ID, uses a CH-47 Chinook helicopter to transport a 12,000-pound buoy from a sandbar in Ulupar Crater to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, recently, to allow the U.S. Coast Guard to recover the buoy.

Story and Photo by
Sgt. Karl Williams
25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII — The Soldiers didn’t come here to enjoy the sea views; they came to conduct a joint sling-load operation.

Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 25th General Support Aviation Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, helped the Coast Guard with an 8-foot by 26-foot, steel, lighted buoy.

The buoy, located in the Ulupau Crater Weapons Range Danger Zone, here, and valued at approximately $30,000, had parted from its mooring and needed to be relocated.

Ralph Little, commander, Cutter Kukui, Coast Guard, said he began asking other military services for assistance with recovering the buoy, after exhausting options within the Coast Guard.

“The (25th CAB) offered to assist us, due to the inaccessibility of the buoy in the shallow water,” Little said. “This relatively small operation integrated capabilities, personnel, platforms and communications from the Army, Coast Guard and Navy.”

Little received support from the Navy’s Waterfront Operations, here, as well as outstanding support, he said, from MCBH.

“Interagency operations like this one go a very long way towards improving interoperability among the services,” he added.

Weeks of coordination and planning significantly contributed to the overall efficiency of the operation, according to Sgt. Rolf Karlstad, air traffic services operator, Company F, 3rd Bn., 25th GSAB.

“Prior to transport, we rigged and preinspected the sling set and vertical pendant on dry land, and (we) only needed to connect four chains to the lifting eye of the buoy when we were in the water,” Karlstad said.

Capt. Sean Merrit, commander, Co. B, 3rd Bn., 25th GSAB, and his Chinook crew also reconnoitered the buoy, the route to the landing zone and the landing zone itself to ensure they all were safe. The crew then returned to the pickup zone to sling-load the buoy.

The Navy provided a Jet Ski; a zodiac, an inflatable rubber boat; and a coxswain, a small watercraft, to transport the rigging equipment and the Soldiers to the buoy.

“Due to our earlier prep work, the greatest difficulty we encountered was simply getting the slings out to the buoy. It was grounded on a coral reef, in 3-6 feet of water, depending on the tide,” Karlstad said.

To increase the stability of the buoy during rigging operations, the five-man Army team conducted the mission during low tide, making work on the grounded buoy safer. Having never conducted sling-load operations for a buoy, Soldiers used the same technique as one used to sling-load a 10,000 pound cargo net.

“Since a Coast Guard sea buoy is not a certified load, I had to use my best judgment and the procedures detailed in the field manuals to determine how to rig it safely,” Karlstad said.

Merrit and his crew maneuvered the CH-47 Chinook and the buoy safely into a predetermined landing zone on MCBH, according to Capt. David Rodriguez, assistant operations officer, 3rd Bn., 25th GSAB.

“We accomplished all of our objectives on the water and in the air, and did it safely,” said Rodriquez. “It was very exciting to see all the pieces come together for a successful mission.”

 

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Category: News, Training

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