By Mrs. Donna Klapakis (SDDC)November 18, 2019
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- The 599th Transportation Brigade partnered with multiservice elements here Nov. 12-14 to discharge 25th Infantry Division and Hawaii Army National Guard cargo and equipment from the USNS Mendonca.
The equipment was returning from a two-month deployment to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana. It had been shipped back to Hawaii via Texas.
Partners for the move were Fleet Logistics Center, Pearl Harbor, which manages the port; 417th Expeditionary Terminal Operations Element, 1179th Transportation Brigade from Baltimore, Maryland; 836th Transportation Battalion from Yokohama, Japan; 13th Navy Cargo Handling Battalion from Pensacola, Florida; personnel from 25th Infantry Division; 25th Sustainment Brigade; HIARNG; Military Sealift Command representatives; and the ship's crew.
599th traffic management specialist Nick Sanchez said the mission was successfully accomplished.
"This offload was an awesome success," Sanchez said. "The vessel offload completed prior to the actual planned date."
Capt. Diane Norris, 417th operations officer, also noted the early finish.
"The mission was successful overall," she said. "We ended up ahead of schedule."
She said her unit learned about communicating between shifts.
"The biggest insight that we have from this was to make sure both shifts are on the same page on how to do the cargo documentation. They were able to correct after the first shift change, but it is easier to plan ahead of time."
"Something good was how well we worked with the Navy," Norris added. "They were able to drive the vehicles off the ship, which was a huge help."
"Members of this cargo handling battalion were not only go-getters -- they went onboard by the accommodation ladder to begin unlashing even before the ramp was down -- they also had people who were certified to drive the big trucks. That was something new, and it was a great benefit for us," said Lt. Col. Gary Whitacre, 836th Transportation Battalion commander.
Because a new computer program, Transportation Management System (TMS), was being tested for use during unit moves, members of U.S. Transportation Command and the Army Transportation School were also on hand to monitor and work with the program.
The program had quite a few problems during its initial use, which was during the deployment phase for the 25th ID move in September.
"We learned a lot from the upload and have ironed out most of the problems. The program now has a dashboard which will update and show where the pieces are from," said Bill Foster, transportation logistics specialist for U.S. Transportation Command TMS Division.
"The dashboard, which wasn't available during deployment, is available now," said CW3 Sandra Rodriguez, deputy Transportation Management Training Department at the U.S. Army Transportation School in Ft. Lee, Virginia. "Key leaders can see the value of the system. They can just look at the dashboard screen to see what has already moved."
She added that some of the next steps will be to connect the program to hand scanners and make its dashboard more robust.
Whitacre noted that this operation was his last scheduled trip to Hawaii to help out with a big move.
"It has been an honor to be included in these large-scale unit moves," he said. "These are now our only chances to move an entire brigade's worth of equipment. These moves have not only given us a chance to practice our craft and become better on a large scale, they have also given us the opportunity to work with other services to find their best practices, and work closely with our customers over several days at the port to find out how we can better serve them."