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Army port team handling incoming tsunami relief supplies

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 10, 2005) - An Army transportation team with staff from Korea, Hawaii and Japan is overseeing all operations at the Port of Laem Chabang, Thailand, as six ships from the Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron Three begin delivery of relief supplies.

The ships carry enough equipment and supplies to support 15,000 Marines for 30 days, according to the Military Sealift Command. In addition to expeditionary Marine Corps combat equipment; the ships carry food, fuel, medical supplies, construction and road building equipment, electrical power generating equipment, airfield matting and a Navy field hospital.

The 599th Deployment and Distribution Support Team is made up of civilians and service members from Headquarters 599th, Hawaii; 595th (Provisional), Southwest Asia; and subordinate units from the 835th Transportation Battalion, Okinawa, Japan; 836th Transportation Battalion, Yokohama, Japan; and, 837th Transportation Battalion, Pusan, Korea, are joining together to form the 599th Deployment and Distribution Support Team.

The 599th DDST will serve as the U.S. Pacific Command's single port manager in current humanitarian aid efforts for the region.

According to Lt. Col. Drefus Lane, 599th DDST and 836th Trans. Battalion commander, the joining of forces is a true testament to the abilities of SDDC,.

"Even though each of the members has a specific role they carry out at their home station, as they come together you see the true range of their skills and understanding for the SDDC mission," he said. "These guys are helping expand each others expertise, all while providing the best possible service to the customer."

"They've been able to form one team without missing a beat," Lane said.

As part of the delivery process, the 599th DDST will provide disaster-relief troops and their commanders with 100 percent in-transit visibility through the use of radio frequency identification tags.

Sgt. 1st Class Paul Guerrero, from the 835th Transportation, Battalion said, "As each piece of required equipment is discharged from the ship, it will be marked with an RFID tag. Then the tag will be scanned and imported into the Worldwide Port System, where commanders can track the equipment as it makes its way to the final destination."

The visibility of equipment offered by the RFID system gives commanders greater access to their assets. Additionally, the system provides accountability for the resources being utilized for the humanitarian operation.

On Jan. 9, members of the 599th DDST assisted with the arrival of the first group of military vehicles to join the tsunami relief efforts.

The Westpac Express High Speed Vessel discharged more than 90 Marines and 75 pieces of equipment at the Port of Chuk Samet under the 599th management.

The Marines from the 7th Communications Battalion, Okinawa, Japan, brought the first Humvees, cargo trucks and fork lifts to support Operation Unified Assistance, said Fred Artis, 599th DDST Operations Officer from the 835th Transportation Battalion, Japan.

The equipment is on its way to areas requiring ground support, such as Sri Lanka and Samantra.

The Port of Chuk Samet is normally operated by members of the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command during exercises and operations in Thailand, said Artis. "So, our presence here is vital, because we have vast knowledge and understanding for the port's capabilities."

With extensive knowledge of the port, members of the 599th DDST created checkpoints for the Marines and their cargo to ensure the cargo was tracked correctly.

"The main function for us today was to ensure an accurate count of the discharged equipment and cargo," said Sgt. 1st Class Frank Viray, Headquarters, 599th Transportation Group. "The information will then be entered into the Worldwide Port System, where commanders will be able to have 100 percent in-transit visibility of these resources."

(Editor's note: Compiled from DDSC releases.) OCPA Public Affairs Home OCPA Public Affairs Home


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