By Kevin Jackson, AMCOctober 30, 2018
McALESTER, Okla. -- With portions of its railroad track damaged from Hurricane Florence and a vessel waiting to outload, the Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point in Southport, N.C., turned to the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, here, for assistance to meet its scheduled mission.
Col. Heather Carlisle, commander, 596th Transportation Bde. and MOTSU, requested railroad track maintenance and locomotive mechanic support on Sept. 20 to provide relief for displaced employees who were hit hard by the hurricane and needed time off to tend to their damaged homes.
Four days later, two railroad maintenance workers and three mechanics from MCAAP were at MOTSU helping to repair its partially flooded and damaged railroad track, and beginning to work on locomotives that were inoperable before the storm.
Over the next four days, the MCAAP railroad maintenance employees worked alongside their MOTSU counterparts to install about 300 grade and switch ties and clean up old ties on the railroad track.
"We replaced ties and prepared the track to make it just safe enough for them so they could get their large shipment out," said Jefferson Smith, MCAAP railroad maintenance vehicle operator supervisor, who helped with the work.
Meanwhile, Steve Qualls, heavy mobile equipment mechanic and MCAAP's resident expert for locomotive maintenance, and his two-man team were able to put two of MOTSU's three locomotives back in service. They also pinpointed the problem with a third locomotive and ordered the parts so it could also be repaired and put back in service.
The mechanics also repaired several other pieces of railroad track equipment and completed the Federal Railroad Administration-required periodic inspection of the terminal's locomotives.
"Once the ship was loaded, we were released and drove another two days to get back home," said Qualls. "It was really cool to be able to help our fellow Army employees and support getting the ship loaded with munitions for our troops overseas."
The mobile off-site rail services team exists to provide quick response support in peacetime and during contingency operations.
"The good thing about doing this is that we were able to send experienced workers who knew exactly what to do," said Ryan Crabtree, chief of the Railroad Maintenance Division, Directorate of Engineering and Public Works at MCAAP. "This is the one reason that our [off-site rail services] team exists and that is to enable the readiness of Department of Defense organizations."
The MOTSU commander appreciated the support.
"Fantastic efforts by our friends from McAlester [Army Ammunition Plant] completing repairs to one of our locomotives and tackling the bigger issues with our tie crane," said Carlisle in an email message to Col. Joseph Blanding, MCAAP commander. "[I am] super impressed with the professionalism of the entire team and the way they jumped right into the fray to get after the hard jobs."
MCAAP has performed rail repair since 1943. The plant has deployed its mobile off-site rail services team to perform railroad repair and maintenance for DOD customers throughout the United States and overseas since 1994.
In the past three years, some of its customers have included Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Polk, La., Fort Riley, Kan., and Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. The team has also done work for NASA.
MCAAP is one of 17 installations of the Joint Munitions Command and one of 23 organic industrial base facilities under the U.S. Army Materiel Command.