III MEF preps for exercise
NAHA MILITARY PORT - Marines with various III Marine Expeditionary Force units loaded the integrated tug and barge vessel Thunder/Lightning at Naha Military Port Sept. 23.
Marines loaded the vessel to prepare for the upcoming bilateral Amphibious Landing Exercise 2013 between the armed forces of the Republic of the Philippines and the U.S.
"We are loading the cargo for PHIBLEX onto the Thunder/Lightning," said Bart J. Schram, a contractor with Foss International, a global logistics and transportation services company. "The vessel is an integrated tug and barge. The barge is called the Thunder and the tug is called the Lightning. This is a multi-deck vessel, so we have different loading procedures for each deck."
Marines and contractors with Foss International and Okinawa Marine Services, an independent civilian embarkation company, worked together to load the cargo into the interior and upper deck of the vessel.
"We are doing a dual operation. We are using a crane to lift containers from the dock to the upper deck of the ship," said Chief Warrant Officer Flora K. Burboa, the mobility officer with G-3, plans and operations, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III MEF. "On the upper deck, the contractors use a forklift to move the containers into place on the deck of the ship. At the same time, we have all the rolling stock and vehicles driving onto the ship.
"Once inside, contractors help the motor transport operators back the vehicles into position, and then the vehicles are secured to the lower deck of the ship."
When working around heavy equipment, one must remain alert and safety conscious, according to Lance Cpl. David Hinojosa, a landing support specialist with Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd MLG, III MEF.
"There are so many variables that could be safety hazards when using a crane to load the containers," said Hinojosa. "The key factor in making sure everyone is safe during this process. As long as everyone is paying attention to all the moving parts around them and doing their job properly, we are able to avoid accidents."
Other preventative measures were in place during the loading process to ensure maximum safety, according to Burboa.
"Every Marine and contractor has to wear a reflective belt or vest and a hard hat," said Burboa. "The drivers are required to wear flak jackets and Kevlar helmets while driving."
With everyone involved abiding by the safety standards in place, the joint effort of the contractors and Marines went smoothly and quicker than anticipated, according to Hinojosa.
"Usually, we are not working with contractors, and the loading process is carried out solely by Marines," said Hinojosa. "The contractors have been very professional, and by working with each other, we were able to finish hours ahead of schedule."