By Capt. Chris LeCron, 841st Transportation Battalion, Public AffairsDecember 27, 2007
The first sealift shipment of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to the US Central Command were received and loaded by the 841st Transportation Battalion at the Port of Charleston, S.C. early December.
MRAPs are life-saving vehicles for Warfighters to use in Iraq and Afghanistan due to their high-tech design that help deflect and counter blasts from improvised explosive devices.
"The MRAP is designed to survive blasts from improvised explosive devices which are the main killers of service-members fighting the war on terrorism in Iraq," said Lt. Col. Randolph Haufe, commander of the 841st. "We are honored to ship these vehicles out of our seaport here in Charleston." Haufe said.
In December, the Department of Defense will require $8.2 billion from Congress to continue MRAP production, according to an article posted on Defenselink.mil. The department will order roughly 6,400 MRAPs in December to meet the current stated requirement of 15,274.
DoD tasked the Marine Corps Systems Command to manage the production of MRAPs in November 2006. All MRAPs from November 2006 until now have been sent by air. As the number of MRAP vehicles increased due to production, DoD has directed shipments to go by sea as well. This recent vessel loading operation out of the Port of Charleston represents the first shipment by sea of MRAPs to the Middle East.
"This is a big deal!" said Cynthia Bauer, public affairs officer for US Transportation Command. "This move represents the significant increase in production of MRAPs to allow us to utilize airlift and sealift assets."
The 841st Transportation Battalion is an active duty Army battalion that is in charge of the loading and discharging of DoD cargo at strategic seaports on the East Coast.
"We mostly work in Charleston, but also spend significant time in Savannah and Philadelphia," said MSgt. Kevin Young, operations sergeant for the 841st. "Our command is headquartered here and we work hand-in-hand with the Naval Weapons Station so it makes sense to ship MRAPs out of here."
Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., sent their public affairs officer to work with Bauer and escort local media channels 2 and 5 who reported on the event.
The local Coast Guard sector in Charleston provides security on all vessels that call TC Dock and load or discharge DoD cargo. Local civilian longshoremen from Marine Terminal Corporation load and unload all cargo under the supervision of the 841st.
Along with load planning, supervising the labor force that loads the vehicles onto the vessel, the 841st is responsible for tracking all the cargo that goes out of their port.
"The MRAP cargo is tracked by the 841st with radio frequency tags and military shipping labels," Haufe said.