Blue and Green team make waves in Spain

17 May 2002 | Sgt. David J. Drafton

Bienvenido a Espana. The SS Pfc. Eugene A. Obregon and the USNS 1st Lt. Harry L. Martin posted in the Mediterranean Sea today as the in-stream off-loads of forward-deployed equipment commenced.

Tarragona, chosen for it's deep-water port, its pier and railhead access, is located on Spain's east coast and is more than 100 miles away from the training area in San Gregorio. 

But how does the equipment get from ships anchored two miles off shore to an
area over 100 miles inland?

"The Navy was responsible for about ninety percent of the ship-to-port operations," said Maj. Richard R. Williams III, the arrival and assembly operations group officer in charge.

It took the Brigade Service Support Group and the Sailors of Amphibious Construction Battalion-2, approximately three days to offload the cargo using a combination of 50-ton cranes and lighterage.

Lighterages are non-powered cosway sections. The lighterage is lower-driven by a cosway section powered (CSP) with twin 42-horsepower engines that have a 360-degree turning radius. The "floating" barge has two intermediate sections that interlock at their ends to connect them to the calm-water ramp.

The Amphibious Seabees, who also built the expeditionary camp, provided the Sailors to drive the lighterage. 

This offload necessitated the use of a calm water ramp that had been slated for Defense Reutilization Management Office (DRMO) in Florida.

The off-loading crew, accustomed to working on a beach, had a small obstacle in their way. The pier measured two meters off of the water's surface.  They needed a way to transfer the equipment from the CSPs to the higher pier.

"Without the calm water ramp this mission could not have happened," said Williams.
Once the vehicles and equipment hit the shore it belonged to the Marines and was scanned and moved to various staging areas.

"We track all of the equipment and vehicles coming off of the CSP and guide it to its proper place," said 1st Lt. Morina Ivey, the port operations group officer in charge.

The equipment comes off the ship, directed by port operations group (POG) and goes to the railhead operations group.

"Our mission is to make sure the right gear is on the right train, ensuring we have in-transit visibility on what equipment is being loaded and moved,"said 1st Lt. Enrico Hunter, rail head officer in charge.

The railhead group met with some small challenges, mainly fitting the equipment on the train and hoping it met the dimensions required to make it through the various tunnels.

Making the shift from Navy to Marine Corps hands had its challenges, but the mission went smoothly and it was a great training opportunity, said Ivey.

The Obregon and Martin were the only two Maritime Prepositioning Ships (MPS) of a five-vessel fleet to participate in Dynamic Mix '02 here.

Fact Box 1:

In-Stream Offloads

Unique to its crisis response heritage, the MPSRON squadrons can, weather permitting offload their entire cargo at sea via on-board crane, landing craft and lighterage.  The capability eliminates the need for well-developed port facilities.  If the infrastructure ashore is destroyed - whether by natural disaster or enemy action, it doesn't affect the 2d MEB's ability to respond close to scene.

Fact Box 2:

The Obregon offload included:

12 Forklifts
6 Howitzers
16 AAVs
4 LAVs
15 Tanks