LIVORNO, Italy - Heavy metal took to Italian roads recently as dozens of U.S. Army tanks and armored vehicles roared and clanked their way from the Port of Livorno, Italy, to Leghorn Army Depot repair shops.

Army Sustainment Command's 3rd Battalion, 405th Army Field Support Brigade and Camp Darby's 839th Transportation Battalion teamed up to ensure the successful delivery and transportation of 144 vehicles belonging to the 172nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team. The equipment transited the port en route to 3rd Battalion, 405th AFSB's maintenance and storage facilities.

839th Transportation Battalion coordinated downloading the ship and staging the equipment for onward movement with the port authority, ship's master, and contracted stevedores, said Lt. Col. Robert King, 839th Transportation Battalion commander. Lt. Col. Roger L. McCreery, 3rd Battalion, 405th AFSB commander, directed his personnel as they helped download the vessel, then served as operators during the convoy to Camp Darby.

"A mission like this absolutely requires teamwork from all the key organizations in order to accomplish the mission," said King. "Detailed communications with our host-nation partners was critical to ensure that all the requirements have been met prior to operation."

McCreery added that a focus on safety, communication and the technical competency of all involved were the central characteristics to successful accomplishment of the mission.

"The operation involved large groups of people from various organizations such as 3rd of the 405th, 839th Transportation Battalion, 497th Movement Control Team, U.S. Army Garrison -- Livorno, Italian base commander, local law enforcement officials, port authorities and contractors -- all operating over a multi-day, multi-shift period of time," said McCreery. "Success required a diligent, focused effort by all because armor equipment, due to the sizes and weights involved, is inherently dangerous to operate and mistakes can result in catastrophic consequences."

In addition to making sure coordination was complete across the board, organizers faced the daunting task of moving a large number of tracked vehicles in a short time over public roads.

"It was important to get the initial 28 vehicles off the vessel quickly, so that the vessel could be moved, allowing another ship to exit the Port of Livorno. Franco Infante, 839th Transportation Battalion terminal manager, provided the motivation and expertise to get the vessel downloaded in time to let other traffic pass in the port," said King.

Once off the ship, the vehicles then had to make the journey from the port to the base.

"In order to minimize disruption to the local population and avoid maneuver damage, we conducted route reconnaissance and identified high-risk areas. Interchange loops and differences in height between paved surfaces at critical areas like points where turns would be negotiated all require extra care," McCreery said.

Safely arrived at Leghorn Army Depot, the equipment is now part of Army Sustainment Command's Left-Behind Equipment Program. While the 172nd HBCT is deployed, McCreery noted, 3rd Bn., 405th AFSB mechanics, painters and other highly skilled specialists will bring the vehicles to Technical Manual 10/20 standard, maintain them in storage, then issue the vehicles back to the unit upon its return from deployment.