599th Trans. ships Tropic Lightning to JRTC

| April 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

 

The 25th ID loads equipment aboard the USNS Mendonca for shipment to Louisianna, April 2. Modifications to the ship meant the Chinook’s aft pylons didn’t need to be removed, saving time.

The 25th ID loads equipment aboard the USNS Mendonca for shipment to Louisianna, April 2. Modifications to the ship meant the Chinook’s aft pylons didn’t need to be removed, saving time.

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

PEARL HARBOR — The 599th Transportation Brigade worked around-the-clock port operations, here, from March 31 to April 4 to upload more than 1,600 pieces of 25th Infantry Division cargo destined for the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

To ship all of the equipment at one time, the 599th (in association with its higher headquarters, the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, or SDDC, and U.S. Transportation Command) brought in Military Sealift Command’s large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ship (LMSR), USNS Mendonca.

“Using a single vessel solution to support the entire movement was effective from a cost standpoint, as well as for the Army to maintain better accountability of cargo,” said Scott Matthews, 599th deputy director of operations. “It allowed us to meet an extremely tight movement timeline.”

Sgt. 1st Class Paulus Hindarto, movement management operator for the 836th Trans. Bn.,  Yokohama North Dock, Japan,  checks off cargo, April 1, at Pearl Harbor after accounting for it on his handheld device.

Sgt. 1st Class Paulus Hindarto, movement management operator for the 836th Trans. Bn., Yokohama North Dock, Japan, checks off cargo, April 1, at Pearl Harbor after accounting for it on his handheld device.

The Mendonca’s special features also came into play during the move.

“One highlight of the load out was that our team decided to raise the A/B deck on the ship to accommodate the Chinook helicopters for lift via ship’s cranes. That way, they didn’t have to dismantle the aft pylons to take them up the vessel’s stern ramp. This saves the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade a lot of work both on this end and on the other end,” Matthews said.

Because of the size of the operation, the 599th had a large deployment and distribution management team (DDMT) to process the equipment.

“In all, our DDMT consisted of four organizations, three from SDDC and one from Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Vogel, 836th Trans. Bn. commander. “We had eight members of the 836th and Guam Detachment, four from 599th headquarters, and three 841st Trans. Bn. personnel from Charleston, South Carolina.”

The load out provided a unique opportunity for members of the DDMT.

“We were able to practice a contingency load out of a brigade with notification timelines that resembled a wartime contingency,” Vogel said. “It illustrated that we are able to meet the timelines for deploying a DDMT and loading a brigade on an LMSR.”

Sgt. 1st Class Jose Gutierrezquinones, 836th Trans. Bn. operations sergeant, worked the night shift.

“We worked 12-hour shifts during port operations,” Gutierrezquinones said. “We came on at 6 p.m. and left at 6 a.m., except for the last night when we stayed on through completion of the mission the next day.”

The 599th executed its new stevedoring and related terminal services contract during the operation.

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Gregory “Ben” Benjamin, 599th traffic management specialist, was the contracting officer representative for the operation.

“The contractors provided lashing teams and both lift and roll-on/roll-off operations teams,” Benjamin said. “There were about 50 contract personnel working per shift. My responsibilities were to oversee the performance of the contractor and make sure they performed within the parameters of the contract. “

Members of the 599th and 836th information management teams also supported the operation.

“We got all of the systems up and running for the operation: Global Air Transportation Execution System, Portable Deployment Kit, the generator and the interrogator on the truck ramp-side,” said Nicholas Rosse, 599th information technology specialist.

“Once everything was operational, we had 24-hour coverage to troubleshoot and make sure it remained working. We also provided help desk support to people working in operations,” he added.

The weather in Honolulu during the operation was clear and humid with highs in the mid-80s. Although ship’s personnel ran huge fans, constantly, to keep air circulating and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, working conditions were very hot and stuffy below decks.

On April 4, all cargo was loaded by 2 p.m., documentation was completed by 4:30 p.m., and the vessel departed Pearl Harbor at 6:30 p.m.

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Medal of Honor Mendonca

According to the Navy’s official site, the ship is named for Army Sgt. Leroy A. Mendonca, a McKinley High School graduate who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for actions July 4, 1951, during the Korean War.

The Mendonca is operated by a private company under contract to Military Sealift Command. The ship is 951 feet, 5 inches long, with a capacity of 300,000 square feet.

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