TACOMA, Wash. -- Soldiers assigned to 11th Transportation Battalion, 7th Transportation Brigade, in conjunction with the Washington National Guard, Army Reserve, Navy and Coast Guard kicked off Joint Logistics Over the Shore in Tacoma, Washington, June 6.
The exercise is designed to establish port operations on a bare beach in order to supply emergency resources to neighboring communities in the event that the Port of Tacoma is damaged by a natural disaster, such as an earthquake.
JLOTS vessels can be deployed in order to temporarily establish facilities at Jenson Point on Vashon Island, Washington.
"In this particular case, it's a very extreme set of problems that allows us to plan and to learn in the event of a disaster," said Rick Wallace, the volunteer president of Vashon Be Prepared and logistics controller for the JLOTS exercise.
The participating Soldiers have spent months preparing for the JLOTS exercise. "Providing disaster relief is such a vital mission," said Spc. Christopher Barrientos-Bland, 331st Modular Causeway Company, 11th Transportation Battalion, 7th Transportation Brigade, a seaman aboard the floating modular causeway. "If an earthquake hits or a tsunami, we're going to be the ones who get the call, and we can deliver these supplies in the blink of an eye."
The floating causeways are flat and light enough to be maneuvered by a small crew to create a makeshift pier in the shallow waters.
"All these different pieces you see, we had to preform Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services on them," said Spc. Sheri Fernando, a watercraft engineer assigned to 331st MCS. "Along with the boats, we needed to make sure all of them were good to go and make sure the engine and electrical equipment are up to standard."
One of the benefits of the floating modular causeway is the relatively low manpower necessary to assemble and transport the equipment.
"We can break it down into parts, put it on trains and even on planes if we need to," said Barrientos-Bland. "We can move it anywhere. Ten of us brought this to Washington. We all loaded it up onto the train and built it in under six days before the other units arrived."
The training exercise allowed the U.S. Transportation Command, the state of Washington and supporting military units to better prepare for future relief operations.
"If you think about the Cascadia earthquake, it happens every 400-500 years, historically, so the last time was a little over 300 years ago," said Wallace. "What I saw today was the culmination of years of work, and this is a way for us to learn how to work together. It's a collaboration between the local community and the military."