OAKLAND, Calif. -- Transportation Soldiers from the Army Reserve 390th Seaport Operations Company out of Ceiba, Puerto Rico conducted roll-on/roll off operations at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, California, June 17, 2022.
Roll-on/roll off operations consist of moving tactical vehicles from a staging point on land, to a sea vessel, latching them into place in preparation for travel, then unlatching the vehicles and moving them off of the sea vessel. The purpose of this exercise is to simulate a real-world operation in which Soldiers would have to send vehicles out or receive vehicles from another port. The vessel utilized in this training exercise was the cargo ship MV Cape Orlando (T-AKR2044). The Cape Orlando is an inactive roll-on/roll-off ship that is part of the US Ready Reserve Fleet.
“We're doing different scenarios because there's different decks on the vessel,” said 2nd Lt. Kassandra Vazquez, Platoon Leader with the 390th SPOC, and officer in charge of seaport operations. “The Soldiers can get an experience on different techniques or different environments of the vessel. It's not the same training on the lower deck or the upper deck.”
During this exercise, the 390th SPOC moved heavy and light tactical. The heavy vehicles are latched in on the lower deck while the light vehicles are latched to the upper deck, said Vazquez.
For a number of Soldiers, this type of experience was slightly different from what they had trained for in the past.
“So we basically stage the vehicles in the same order that we want to load them on and then we ground guide them inside the vessel. We have our latching team inside which basically hooks them down to the vessel,” said Pvt. Jan Medina, a Cargo Specialist with the 390th SPOC. “The latching down systems we have here, we don't have that at AIT. So this is a learning experience for me.”
Overseeing the roll on/roll off operation on the Cape Orlando was Navy Reserve Lt. j.g. James Bonner with the Strategic Sealift Officers. He was on active duty training with the Maritime Administration
“My role these two weeks will be acting as a liaison between the Army and the Maritime Administration,” said Bonner. “We have shipboard expertise. I sail commercially for my civilian job. So, I can bridge the gap between the civilian world, sailing on the ship and what you guys are doing in the army.”
Exercises such as this not only benefit the Soldiers involved, but they also give the Maritime Administration the opportunity to assess the readiness of their Ready Reserve Fleet.
“These ships in particular do not move very often. When they do, it ends up being a big operation,” said Bonner. “So, during these operations we can see how you roll the Humvees on, how we have to lash it down, and we see the equipment that we have on the ship. Any time these ships can get some kind of action that isn't just the day to day maintenance is always beneficial.”
Practicing these roll-on/roll off exercises prepares Reserve Soldiers for real life events should they arise.
“In 2017 when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, we had no service of aircrafts or any ships landing on the island,” said Vazquez. “That's when the 390th was activated and they were able to do their transportation on the island, unloading the vessels, and making sure that the people received their food and their equipment for a lot of areas where the civilians could not be reached.”
Working in a joint operation with the Navy reserve ensured the success of the mission.
“When the Strategic Sealift Officers get to be a part of joint exercises with the Army, it's definitely a great learning experience for us,” said Bonner “It’s awesome to have this side of the Maritime Administration, this ready reserve ship, to train with in conjunction with you all. It's just good all around for all parties.”
Among the lower enlisted, training opportunities encourage mission readiness and highlight the essential nature of their role in the US Army.
“So, this is a learning experience for me and for some other MOS’s,” said Medina. “Some people that are not specifically in this MOS are getting to learn it and actually practice it and we're getting to work more as a unit. The leaders are getting more leadership experience and we're going more as a team together. So I'm actually enjoying this AT.”