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Big E's Support From the Shore

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS030929-11

Release Date: 9/29/2003 8:01:00 PM

By Journalist 3rd Class (SW) Rebekah Caruso, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

ABOARD USS ENTERPRISE (NNS) -- As USS Enterprise (CVN 65) prepares for its upcoming deployment, keeping the crew supplied with materials, mail and personnel is a critical mission. The Sailors assigned to the "Big E" beach detachment are the ones tasked with making it happen.

"The perception of beach detachment as an easy job is incorrect," said Chief Storekeeper William R. Bunker of the Supply Department, who talks to the beach detachment several times a day, ordering parts and materials. "These Sailors are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

The beach detachment is responsible for expediting the travel of parts, materials, mail and personnel, both on and off of the ship. The beach detachment consists of less than 10 Sailors, the majority from the Supply and Personnel Departments.

"Our personnelman on the beach detachment handles the paperwork from the shore end for Sailors who [transfer], separate, go on temporary assigned duty for school, or take emergency leave while from the shore end," said Chief Personnelman Timothy L. White of the Personnel Department.

The beach detachment is divided into two main parts, forward deployed and homeport. The forward-deployed detachment follows the ship out and stays on landmasses within flight range of the ship. The homeport detachment stays in Norfolk working with Commander, Naval Air Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMNAVAIRLANT).

On occasions when the ship is farthest away from Norfolk, a few Sailors from the forward detachment stay in Sigonella, Sicily, to act as a halfway point.

"There's a lot of coordination involved in getting the materials, mail and personnel to the ship," said Bunker.

The procedure works in a series of steps, requiring each element of the beach detachment to work together as a team. The ship identifies supply needs and sends the information to the beach detachment in Norfolk. The Sailors find the materials the ship, air wing or staff needs and coordinates with COMNAVAIRLANT to find the fastest means of delivery available to the beach detachment in Sigonella. The beach detachment in Sigonella picks up the materials, personnel or mail and gets it out to the ship's forward-deployed detachment.

The forward-deployed team then coordinates with Enterprise's Operations department to get it delivered. Turnaround depends on the availability of the materials needed.

"During [the last at-sea period], the beach detachment was outstanding, going above and beyond the call of duty," said Bunker. "I expect the same this underway."

The "Big E" Sailors assigned to the beach detachment have an incredible responsibility, acting as a pipeline between home and the ship. Long hours and late night phone calls are all part of the job, keeping Enterprise and her crew mission-capable and ready for battle.

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