CLB-31 adds long-haul, heavy transportation capability aboard Ashland during at sea deployment

by Lance Cpl. Matthew Navarra
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

ABOARD USS ASHLAND (LSD 48), Pacific Ocean, (Sept. 29, 2018) – Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 31 extended the range of the battalion’s motor transportation platoon recently, adding a low bed, 50-ton medium-heavy equipment transporter (MHET) to the complement of vehicles aboard the dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), while underway in the Pacific Ocean. CLB-31, the Logistics Combat Element for the 31st MEU, loaded aboard the Ashland at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, for a regularly scheduled patrol of the Indo-Pacific region.

The 31st MEU is the first MEU to utilize the MHET aboard a dock landing ship during a deployment at sea. The MHET is currently the most capable and versatile flatbed trailer used on any MEU, according to Sgt. Dale Posey, a motor transportation operator with CLB-31.

“As far as I’m aware, I’m the first one to ever drive this trailer onto a ship like the Ashland,” said Posey, a native of Missoula, Montana. “It can carry anything from a backhoe to a Humvee or even an [assault amphibious vehicle]. It’s a 50-ton trailer that can carry up to 100,000 pounds.”

The MHET, pulled by a Logistic Vehicle System Replacement, can carry any piece of Marine Corps’ equipment aboard the Ashland. The trailer is wider and longer than most military transport vehicles – it is the first flatbed trailer able to transport an AAV. When an AAV malfunctions or is otherwise disabled, the MHET allows CLB-31 to self-recover vehicles, saving transportation expenses once spent on contract movers.

“The MHET is a force multiplier, through and through,” said Staff Sgt. Edgar OrozcoSamano, truck master and a motor transportation chief with CLB-31. “It’s a great asset for the 31st MEU because it allows us to move [vehicles and cargo] long distances safely and efficiently.”

CLB-31 serves as the Logistic Combat Element of the 31st MEU, supporting the MEU by providing, maintaining and coordinating equipment and manpower, as well as being able to respond to non-combatant-evacuations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and mass casualty events.

The MHET also gives Marines with CLB-31 longer reach during both training and missions across the Indo-Pacific, according to Orozco.

“During the planning phase for long range missions, we used to have to consider how far vehicles could drive on their own,” said Orozco. “Now, with the MHET, the range is not a factor because the heavy equipment is loaded on the trailer. Then, it arrives ready, fueled and fresh to accomplish the mission.”

Photo Caption:

Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 31 prepare to move a low bed, 50-ton medium-heavy equipment transporter trailer onto a landing craft, utility aboard the dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), off the coast of the Philippines. The 31st MEU is the first MEU to load and utilize the MHET. The MHET provides long distance transportation capabilities for heavy equipment including trams and assault amphibious vehicles. The Marines of CLB-31 maintained and operated the MHET and other vehicles in support of KAMANDAG 2, a multinational exercise involving the United States, Japan and the Philippines. The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, the Marine Corps’ only continuously forward-deployed MEU provides a flexible ready force capable of accomplishing a wide variety of missions.

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