CAMP HENRY, South Korea -- The 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command Support Operations Mobility Sea branch, based out of Camp Henry, is responsible for tracking all inbound and outbound equipment that moves by ocean vessel to the South Korean theatre of operations.
The sea branch also monitors port operations and availability, and they provide technical expertise about Army watercraft, Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore, Military Sealift Command vessels, and commercial carriers.
“Logistically we perform the same function for 19th ESC (as the land and air branch), just on different modes of transportation,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brian Shay, 19th ESC SPO Mobility Sea branch operations noncommission officer.
When units on the peninsula need supplies brought in from overseas, units submit a request to the local movement control teams. The movement control teams then forward the request to the 837th Surface Deployment Distribution Center located in Busan.
The 837th SDDC arranges bookings on a vessel, which is tracked by the SPO Mobility Sea branch.
“We will monitor the cargo as it moves from point A to point B,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 John Semmes, 19th ESC SPO Sea branch master. “The cargo has a radio frequency identification tag to track the supplies’ movements.”
A vast majority of the 19th ESC’s equipment is brought to the peninsula by sea due to cost efficiency. Because South Korea is surrounded by bodies of water, it is most effective to move equipment by vessels than any other means of transportation.
“The only way to bring equipment to the peninsula is by air or by sea, so we definitely stay busy bringing stuff in by sea,” Semmes said.
“It is cheaper, by far, to transport equipment by sea to the KTO than any other mode of transportation available,” Shay said. “The only drawback to the ocean mode of transportation is the speed at which it travels, but normally the cost effectiveness out-weighs the speed.”
Equipment traveling by sea takes approximately 60 days to arrive to its final destination.
Only in instances where supplies need to be expedited to Korea, will the command use other means of transportation to move supplies into the country. In which case, those supplies will be flown in through the air branch.
“Just about anything can be moved by ocean transportation,” Shay said. “There really are no restrictions on size or weight. We move containers, flat-tracks, pallets, rolling stock and tracked vehicles.”
While the sea branch is not physically responsible for supply movements, they assist in the coordination of goods being moved through movement control teams and the 837th SDDC, ensuring units receive needed equipment.
During armistice, the sea branch provides oversight, quality assurance and visibility into seaport operations. They also impart technical information on all facets of ocean transportation to the command.
In a contingency, the sea branch coordinates with its Republic of Korea counterparts to ensure cargo entering the KTO has sea-side security. The ROK navy would provide escort services for vessels coming in at that time.
“During a contingency, we monitor (all supplies being moved by sea), making sure it gets offloaded in a timely manner and goes on to its final destination,” Semmes said.
The ROK navy also provides escort services for sensitive items when coming to the peninsula.
The mobility branches coordinate internally between the land, air and sea branches to make certain cargo reaches the requesting units.
Once the cargo is offloaded from the ports, the sea branch turns over the manifest to the land branch to move supplies to their final destination.
Regardless of what supplies are being moved, 19th ESC SPO mobility branch tracks and monitors all cargo being moved to Korea and ensures it gets to where it needs to go in a timely manner.