By Chip Steitz, 10th Regional Support Group, Public Affairs OfficeJanuary 26, 2015
WHITE BEACH NAVAL BASE, Okinawa, Japan (Jan. 26, 2015) -- The Army established a new proven watercraft capability on White Beach Naval Base, Okinawa, Jan. 20-22, that can improve efficiency and save time in future sea operations.
While at port, Soldiers, with the 10th Support Group (Regional) aboard the U.S. Army Landing Craft Utility, USAV Port Hudson (LCU 2035), aligned the loading ramp to the stern ramp of the Military Sealift Command prepositioning vessel, USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak (T-AK 3005), to transfer supplies between watercraft.
Soldiers, from the 10th Support Group (Regional) and the 835th, were providing port operations for Pacific Utilities and Logistics Support Enablers -- Watercraft, dubbed PULSE-W.
This is the first time in history a landing craft utility, or LCU, has performed this type of maneuver on this class of vessel.
The ramp-to-ramp loading method enabled Soldiers to drive vehicles between vessels, while other Soldiers simultaneously loaded 379 containers in less than 33 hours using a port-side crane from the LCU and the USNS Kocak. This type of time-saving capability will enhance port operations in support of Pacific Pathways, the Army's plan to develop small, deployable units for quick response to humanitarian emergencies or regional threats.
"At times, the vessel's ramp was submerged in more than three-feet of water, making it difficult to drive vehicles from the concrete loading ramp," said Chief Warrant Officer Bobby Irvin, USAV Port Hudson vessel master. "After loading the USNS Kocak's stern ramp, we moved the vessels side-by-side and transferred cargo using cranes. Overall, the USAV Port Hudson's mission was a success due to the efforts of all services involved; Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Military Sealift Command."
In addition, the newly proven ramp-to-ramp loading method on larger class vessels will enhance contingency sealift capabilities in the far east and greatly reduce transportation costs for Exercises Cobra Gold in Thailand and Balikitan in the Philippines. This mission, along with many others, increases the feasibility of Army Watercraft Systems, or AWS, throughout the Pacific area of operation.
"This was a great opportunity for the 14 Army crew members to become familiar with joint cargo operations in less than favorable conditions," Irvin said. "Not only did we have to adjust protocol to successfully transfer cargo using the stern ramp of the USNS Kocak, we also had to adapt to more than seven-foot tidal change on a sloping ramp to load equipment."
The capabilities used during PULSE-W contribute to the joint training environment necessary in the Pacific region by enabling interoperability, enhancing military-to-military relations and elevating combined combat capabilities.