JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (July 12, 2014) -- More than 80 percent of the world's population lives within 200 miles of the coast, and Army watercraft allow movement and maneuvers in and around that heavily populated littoral (close to the shore) region.
Building strong relationships with sister service and partner nation counterparts enhances that critical capability in the Pacific region.
Army mariners from the 163rd Transportation Detachment and the 545th Transportation Harbormaster Detachment, joined their 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, U.S. Navy and New Zealand Navy comrades during operations designed to strengthen those working relationships July 10-11 as part of the biennial Rim of the Pacific 2014 exercise.
The Combined Joint Logistics Over the Shore and casualty evacuation events provided a platform for the services and nations to display their compatibility, and to learn from each other, while allowing the 545th's Harbormaster Command and Control Center to demonstrate its expeditionary nature and ability to provide command and control to different watercraft from different nations, crewed by multiple services.
During the casualty evacuation Thursday, the 163rd Transportation Detachment crew and a security detail of U.S. Navy Sailors from Coastal Riverine Squadron 11, boarded Logistic Support Vessel-2, the U.S. Army Vessel CW3 Harold C. Clinger, here, and traveled 10 nautical miles out, as a 25th Combat Aviation Brigade crew departed Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, to eventually hover its HH-60 Black Hawk over the bow of the vessel and lift a simulated casualty from the vessel's deck.
"It was great to get our services together," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bryce Buckley, the first mate of LSV-2. "It was the first time that 25th Infantry Division worked with us during a water-based case. That is typically a Coast Guard mission, but our LSVs are perfect for the 25th's aircraft, because we have plenty of space between our masts for them to fly in low."
Buckley said the overall casualty evacuation mission is critical for saving lives.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ryan Cain, a medevac pilot with Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, said their typical mission sets are over land, but for the Rim of the Pacific 2014 exercise, they've been working closely with the Navy and Army watercraft communities to conduct more waterborne operations, which is especially relevant in the Pacific region.
The next day, the LSV-2 crew and their U.S. Navy counterparts worked side-by-side with the New Zealand navy during a Combined Joint Logistics Over the Shore exercise, on the shores of Ford Island, Hawaii.
The vessel's cargo deck is designed to hold any vehicle in the U.S. Army inventory and comparable vehicles in sister services' and partner nation militaries. The flat bottom boat can carry up to 15 M1 Abrams main battle tanks, or 82 standard containers, which is the equivalent of 17 C-17 aircraft loads. The boat has both bow and stern ramps for roll-on and -off operations and can beach itself to load or discharge cargo over the shore in as little as four feet of water.
For the Friday exercise, 15 vehicles were loaded and convoyed by the 25th Transportation Company, from Schofield Barracks to Ford Island shores, where LSV-2 arrived and dropped its ramp for them to be driven directly on and safely lashed to the deck. A New Zealand navy Landing Craft Medium watercraft simultaneously moved into the area and dropped its ramp to load cargo boxes from the shore.
"It was different than many missions I've been on, because I was predominately observing how my Navy counterparts securely lash down cargo and offering my experience in that area," said Sgt. George Sulligan, a watercraft operator primarily responsible for cargo operations aboard the LSV-2. "The crews worked together, built camaraderie, and learned each other's language, which is important to the watercraft community as a whole in case we have to work together in the future."
The two days' worth of joint and combined operations reflected the RIMPAC 2014 theme -- Capable, Adaptive, Partners -- and contributed to increased readiness and collaboration between services and nations in the Pacific.