By Army Lt. Col. Michael Arnold and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Elbert Pama, SDDCMarch 22, 2013
Members of Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's Pacific Northwest Detachment, headquartered in Seattle, Wash., managed the recent offload and distribution of 674 pieces of 2/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team vehicles and containers redeployed from Afghanistan into the Port of Tacoma and forwarded onto Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
The detachment capitalized on service members to offload and distribute the cargo from the port to the fort saving SDDC about $46,000 as opposed to contracting traditional commercial line-haul services.
PNW-D oversaw the port operations. Coordinating the offload, staging and forward distribution of a large volume of cargo with multiple stakeholders could have posed a logistical challenge. But as a single port manager, the detachment is no stranger to large volume moves.
Stakeholders involved with this redeployment mission included 2/2 SBCT, I Corps, 7th Infantry Division, 593rd Sustainment Brigade's 513th Transportation Company, Installation Transportation Directorate, General Dynamics Land Systems, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tacoma Police Department, Port of Tacoma Police, Jones Stevedoring and APM Terminals.
ELEMENTS OF PORT OPERATIONS
One critical piece of this mission was the set-up of information technology equipment.
Yulin Tsang, information management specialist for PNW-D, along with her team, setup the Hawkeye Very Small Aperture Terminal providing communications through the Multimedia Communications System Network.
The team also setup an Early Entry Deployment Support Kit, the Portable Deployment Kit to support In-Transit Visibility, or ITV, of cargo as each piece gets offloaded from the vessel so customers knew exactly the status of their cargo. They also established the Deployable Global Air Transportation Execution System, or DGATES, to document cargo discharge and disposition.
The mission consisted of four phases: planning and preparation; discharge and staging; inspection and disposition; and recovery.
Phase One started more than a month before the cargo arrive at the port. Stakeholders involved in this mission leveraged this time to begin meetings and discuss the concept of operations, security, safety, life support, equipment requirements, communications, troop-to-task assignments, battle rhythm, and much more.
After various reviews, Christopher Donohue, marine cargo specialist for PNW-D, and the lead operations coordinator for the mission, conducted the Rehearsal of Concept drill with everyone involved to ensure the mission was on track.
The mission began Feb. 28. All stakeholders arrived early to pass through a tight security check at the port's terminal gate and Susan Pearson, safety officer for PNW-D, conducted a series of safety briefings for all mission stakeholders.
Equipped with personal protective equipment, raincoats, and high spirits, the participants braved the inclement weather to start discharging the cargo off the vessel.
Security of the pier could not have been more reassuring with three USCG boats patrolling the waterway around the ship. After a meeting with all stakeholders, Phase Two started with cargo discharge and staging.
Personnel moved the cargo into the staging area with flawless precision. Penny Wargo, transportation specialist for PNW-D and lead documentation coordinator for the mission, trained her team to properly scan cargo labels for DGATES discharge while Sgt. 1st Class James Miller, senior noncommissioned officer at PNW-D, ensured the ITV systems properly recorded all the cargo as it left the vessel and moved to the staging area.
Included in the staging plan was the segregation of sensitive and hazardous cargo, as well as the sorting of all containers.
Brig. Gen. Billy Don Farris, deputy commanding general of 7th Infantry Division for Operations, and other visitors made a visit to the port to see the operation in action. They thanked the PNW-D team for efficiently supporting the re-deployment and presented command coins to Donohue, Wargo and Damon Poulin, security officer for PNW-D, and Penny Wargo.
Phase three, inspection and disposition (movement from port to fort), began Mar. 1 with the inspection and departure of the first of 38 Stryker vehicles making its way to JBLM.
The SBCT Soldiers conducted inspections of the rolling stock and started moving the equipment to JBLM. The unit's liaison officers were also on hand at the port to assist and facilitate the onward movement of unit equipment. They worked seamlessly with PNW-D reconciling documentation for 100 percent accuracy prior to the cargo departing the port. The last truck and trailer left the port a day ahead of schedule. The redeployment mission of the 2/2 SBCT was completed with no injury to personnel or damage to equipment and all cargo was delivered to the customer ahead of schedule with a savings of defense dollars to boot.
This mission was truly a shining example of how professionalism and teamwork can make a complex mission less complicated. Each team member and stakeholder was integrated and synchronized and it spoke volumes to the robust capability of PNW-D.