Smooth sailing for artillery
OJOJIHARA MANEUVER AREA, MIYAGI, Japan -- The smell of salt is in the air as contractors wait for the cargo ship Prince Hayate to arrive in port. The ship makes its way slowly as ropes are lowered by the deck hands.
The equipment, vehicles and artillery pieces for Battery C, 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, currently assigned to 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, under the unit deployment program, arrived June 2 at the Port of Sendai, Sendai, Japan.
The offload signaled a major movement of man and machines as well as the start of Artillery Relocation Training Program 14-1.
The ARTP is a regularly scheduled training event that has been taking place in Japan since 1997. There are five training areas on mainland Japan where U.S. Marines are able to train using artillery live-fire.
When the ship lowered the ramp, the contracted workers began the meticulous process of moving vehicles and M777A2 lightweight 155 mm howitzers.
“The Japanese are very professional and their work ethic is through the roof,” said Sgt. Thomas W. Fry, an automotive organizational mechanic with the battery. “I learned a good amount from the Japanese and how logistics works; it takes a lot to move equipment.”
The equipment was placed on trucks after it was taken off the ship. Once all the trucks were loaded up, the convoy of 27 vehicles and six howitzers made its way to the Ojojihara Maneuver Area, Japan.
When working with the Marines it is best to have a friendly relationship to ensure the work goes smoothly, said Koichi Yamada, a contractor participating in the offload. Communication is important between the two groups.
As efficiently as the equipment was offloaded from the ship, it was removed from the trucks and staged at the maneuver area.
“It was a nice experience,” said Fry, a native of Thurmont, Md. “The Japanese have not seen a lot of Marines. They were very enthusiastic and wanted to take a lot of pictures with us.”