By Maj. Bruce Hodges, AFSBn-NEA (APS-4)November 20, 2014
YOKOHAMA NORTH DOCK, Japan (Nov. 20, 2014) -- The Pacific Utility and Logistics Support Exercise-Watercraft, or PULSE-W is a U.S. Army Pacific initiative to utilize Army Prepositioned Stock, or APS, watercraft stored in Japan to support various exercises as part of Pacific Pathways.
This event has proven to be a great way for the Army to strengthen its strategic partnerships through bilateral and multilateral exercises. The Army Field Support Battalion-Northeast Asia, 403rd Army Field Support Brigade, has also proven to be an excellent tool for validating equipment readiness and processes for drawing APS as the Army continues its pivot to the Pacific.
"PULSE-W is a great enabler to the USARPAC Pathways initiative. It provides a quick and agile way to move supplies and equipment around the theater," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Abdelkader Hosni, maritime operations officer, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, Fort Shafter, Hawaii. "Plus it is a great way to keep our Army mariners trained and ready to support contingencies across the Pacific region."
The first iteration of PULSE-W began in the summer of 2013, with planning and coordination of the vessel issue culminating in January 2014. This resulted in the issue of two Army Landing Craft to crews from the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) from Fort Eustis, Virginia. After six months of supporting exercises such as Cobra Gold in Thailand and Balikitan in the Philippines, the crews returned the vessels and redeployed to their home station.
As soon as PULSE-W began, planning for a second round, PULSE-W II began in earnest with the primary APS-4 caretakers, AFSBn-NEA, working closely with USARPAC, the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Japan and the 7th TB(X). The crew arrived at Yokohama North Dock, Sept. 30, and immediately began working with AFSBn-NEA to receive the U.S. Army Vessel Contreras (LCU 2015) and begin missions in support of the Pacific Theater.
While AFSBn-NEA and the 7th TB(X) conducted most of the vessel issue process, PULSE-W is an application of logistics teamwork with other units involved in supporting operations. These ranged from the 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion providing life support, field feeding and ammunition support; the 78th Signal Battalion from Okinawa providing communications support; and the 10th Regional Support Group from Okinawa providing mission command for PULSE-W II.
"The process has been great. Every unit here in Japan has been very supportive of the crew and we are ready to get underway so we can begin operations," said Sgt. 1st Class Jonathon Plake, the crew's senior non-commissioned officer-in-charge. I have been impressed with the condition of the vessel. It is obvious that the folks here in Japan put a lot of work into taking care of all the watercraft."
The vessel issue process consists of several different phases beginning with a joint inventory of all equipment aboard the vessel to include Component of End Items, Basic Issue Items and On-Board Spare List that ensure the vessel can operate independently for at least 10 days. Once complete, the crew moved on to conducting a Joint Technical Inspection of the vessel to ensure all systems aboard were operational.
The vessel issue culminated in a Joint Sea Trial, where the crew and AFSBn-NEA staff took the vessel out for a six-hour cruise around Tokyo Harbor. This allowed the vessel master to put loads on the various systems of the vessel ensuring everything was seaworthy before taking official ownership of the vessel.
The various units involved came together and executed the issue in about one week despite two typhoons that passed through Yokohama North Dock. After the last typhoon cleared the area, the USAV Contreras (Landing Craft, Utility 2015) and her 7th TB(X) crew departed Yokohama North Dock, Oct. 15, to link up with another vessel in Okinawa to begin operations.
"The vessel issue went as well as we had hoped and allowed us to continue to refine our processes as we get ready for our next vessel issue supporting PULSE-W III in the spring and Pacific Reach 15 in the early summer," said Lt. Col. Christopher Noe, commander, AFSBn-NEA. "Overall, it has been a great success."
Plans for PULSE-W III are already underway with a crew and vessel swap scheduled for March 2015 at Yokohama North Dock.
"PULSE-W is critical to our ability to refine the way in which we prepare to issue our watercraft to Soldiers," said Doug Workman, AFSBn-NEA Yokohama North Dock site manager. "It really is a great exercise that we hope continues for a long time."