By Staff Sgt. Warren W. Wright, Jr., 21st TSC Public AffairsJanuary 24, 2013
ANTWERP, Belgium -- Elements of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command assisted the 838th Transportation Battalion, Kleber Kaserne, Kaiserslautern, Germany, with the offload of nearly 50 Army helicopters and associated components from a cargo ship at the port here, Jan. 17.
The AH-64 Apache helicopters and CH-47 Chinook helicopters began their journey in Beaumont, Texas, where they spent 12 days traveling across the Atlantic Ocean before being offloaded and stored at the port of Antwerp.
Various United States and partner nation agencies are involved in the movement with the final destination set for Coleman Barracks, Germany, where the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade will assemble and distribute the helicopters to its subordinate units.
According to Hans Roggeveen, a senior cargo specialist with the Benelux Detachment of 838th Trans., the cargo will be stored in Antwerp for up to three weeks before being loaded onto barges and transported down the Rhine River into Germany.
"It's our job to get military equipment from (the continental United States) and to handle the discharge and the disposition by (Army Movement Control Team) to their final destination," said Roggeveen.
"We are more or less responsible for the logistics for the Soldiers," said Roggeveen. "Their equipment is very important to us. (It's important) that it gets on the ground without any damage, without any problems and that it moves as fast as possible to the units (receiving the equipment)."
The dock operation was a much larger than seen in previous years, bringing together many various agencies, both U.S. and partnered nations, to successfully transport the much needed equipment.
Roggeveen said normally only one or two agencies would be involved in a standard operation, however the size and nature of this operation necessitated more than 100 people from nearly 20 agencies, working together to get the job done.
"This is an extremely intricate mission," said Capt. Phillip Castillo, a transportation officer with 838th Trans, and a native of Acoma Pueblo, N.M. "There are many units and team players that have to come together to formulate this plan at the end."
The valuable nature of the equipment being transported was also a daunting task for those involved, making everyone work extra careful as to not damage any of the helicopters or their components.
"This is of course very expensive equipment and it also very easy to damage," said Roggeveen. "It's light and is made to go into the air and not to be shipped like this or being handled on the docks."
"We are very cautious that nothing goes wrong, that all the streets are swept so that no nails or pieces of iron can get into the tires," Roggeveen added.
"The equipment is very valuable to us," said Castillo. "I've seen everyone exercising great care in taking care of this equipment so that the 12th CAB gets their equipment 100 percent safe and sound."
Diligent planning with all agencies involved was an important part of why the operation was a success.
"We have had a couple of preliminary meetings with everyone involved," said Roggeveen. "Everything was well discussed and well prepared and that made it go quite smooth."
"The planners did a tremendous job when they synchronized this event," said Castillo. "To be able to be a part of it, watch this whole event and see it in action has been a tremendous opportunity for me."
"We know we're making an impact, and I know when these birds get up and they start flying, the Soldiers will be thankful they got their equipment safe and sound," Castillo added.