YIR: 599th Trans busy with multiple Pacific exercises

| December 20, 2013 | 0 Comments
PEARL HARBOR — Dave Bertao, traffic management specialist, 599th Trans. Bde., performs single-port-manager duties during the offload of USAPAC cargo from the M/V Ocean Giant, Oct. 22. (Photo by Donna Klapakis, 599th Transportation Brigade Public Affairs)

PEARL HARBOR — Dave Bertao, traffic management specialist, 599th Trans. Bde., performs single-port-manager duties during the offload of USAPAC cargo from the M/V Ocean Giant, Oct. 22. (Photo by Donna Klapakis, 599th Transportation Brigade Public Affairs)

Story and photo by Donna Klapakis
599th Transportation Brigade Public Affairs

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — The 599th Transportation Brigade is the Pacific arm of Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC), which is headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

Similarly, the 599th has only its headquarters in Hawaii, with all of its components scattered throughout the Pacific.

Battalions are in Busan, Korea; Okinawa, Japan; and Yokohama, Japan. The brigade also has detachments in Singapore, Guam and Alaska.

Although much of the unit’s activities loading and unloading cargo as a transportation brigade are conducted by its battalions and detachments overseas, the brigade headquarters has traditionally been the single port manager for all ports in Hawaii, booked all military cargo leaving the Pacific area of responsibility and tracked all military cargo coming to or going through the Pacific. However, during 2013, the booking function moved from the 599th Trans. Bde. to SDDC headquarters.

“We’ve taken on more of a role of interacting with military units that are shipping cargo. Now we focus more on their requirements rather than the actual booking function,” said John Fisher, chief, 599th sealift management section. “This allows for better coordination and increased communications.”

In June, the 599th was able to finalize long-term contracts for cargo shipments between the outer Hawaiian Islands and from Oahu onward that had previously been handled by one-time-only contracts or liner-term vessels, wherein the carrier provided the stevedores.

“Not only did we need a contractor of our own for our Barbers Point moves, but Pearl Harbor indicated they want to use the contract for some of their larger moves” said Carlos Tibbetts, terminal operations chief. “If you have a ship come out under liner terms, you add a lot of additional expenses and time. Having our own contracts should save the government a lot in the long term.”

The brigade held its biennial change of command in July aboard the battleship USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor. Col. Shannon Cox assumed command of the unit from Col. Gust Pagonis.

In October, the unit underwent its first virtual command inspection with the unit’s higher headquarters, SDDC, as the examiner. The brigade performed exceptionally well.

The 599th participated in or supported Pacific military exercises Key Resolve, Foal Eagle, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, Balikatan, Cobra Gold, Talisman Saber, Forager Fury, and Northern Edge.

“We participate in all of these and other Pacific exercises every year, but planning for them was more difficult between August 2012 and October 2013 because we didn’t have a forward planner in Korea. Now that that position is filled, things run a lot smoother,” said Jim Staege, plans chief.

Cox said she considers the last change the brigade will undergo during 2013 as its most significant structural change: The Alaska Detachment will realign from the 599th Trans. Bde. to the 597th Trans. Bde. at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.

Because the Unified Command Plan had realigned Alaska from U.S. Pacific Command to U.S. Northern Command in 2011, SDDC plans to realign the detachment to a brigade in the USNORTHCOM area of responsibility to be in line with combatant commander control.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: News, Year in Review

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *