ROK Salvage Effort Sustained by FISC Yokosuka Supply Lifeline
Story Number: NNS100416-04
By H. Sam Samuelson, U.S. Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- As the U.S. Navy continues on-scene efforts to assist the Republic of Korea's salvage of the ROKS Cheonan in the Yellow Sea, U.S. Fleet and Industrial Supply Center (FISC) Yokosuka, Japan, is working behind-the-scenes sustaining a precious lifeline of food, fuel, equipment and mail.
U.S. forces arrived shortly after the sinking of the South Korean navy corvett March 26. After a successful lift of the ship off the sea floor, U.S. forces remain on scene.
"There isn't an hour in the day or night that we haven't or won't work getting supplies out to the ships and crews when they're needed," said Cmdr. Gary McIntosh, FISC Yokosuka Detachment Sasebo's officer in charge.
So far, more than 350 pallets of repair equipment, stores, provisions and mail have been delivered in support of the efforts, mostly for crew and salvage assistance staff aboard the U.S. Afloat Staging Base, USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49). More than 400,000 gallons marine diesel fuel has been safely transported and dispensed.
The emergent nature of the sinking threw some kinks into what would otherwise be a normal, linear supply chain of events. Many of the ships dispatched to assist in rescue and recovery were initially headed back to port, so their logistics requisitions, or "Log Reqs," required immediate modification.
Harpers Ferry had returned to Sasebo, Japan, after supporting Balikatan, but was put on short turn-around notice to head back out and rush to the scene of the sinking.
"Either way, dispatched from sea, or rushed out from port, these ships' supply needs ramped up rapidly," McIntosh said. "We're talking food, fuel, equipment repair and replacement parts, everything pretty much changed when the ships' schedules changed, so we scrambled."
Ships included USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), USS Lassen (DDG 82), USS Shiloh (CG 67), USNS Salvor (T ARS 52) and USNS Alan Shepard (T AKE 3), plus divers with Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1 (MDSU 1), and explosive ordance technicians from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 (EODMU 5).
FISC Detachment Sasebo's Lt. Mike Cribbs likened the swift turnaround to retrofitting a regular utility truck as fire rescue vehicle, at least in a logistics sense.
"We had a ship returning from an exercise in its amphibious role, and going right back out in less than two days as the lead platform for U.S. assistance," said Cribbs.
Supplies came from far and wide. Cribbs and his team coordinated efforts to get it all to the support ships. Because of the emergency nature of the onloads, Cribbs admits he went to some creative lengths to ensure the crews on the ships got what they needed – and if that included food and produce, that it arrived fresh.
FISC Detachment Chinhae, Korea, stepped in when it recognized an opportunity to get mail and parts to the scene.
"We had been accumulating mail for one of the returning ships, but it was diverted to assist in search and rescue," said detachment Officer in Charge Jason Shaffer. "Our next step was to ship their mail via Sasebo, but it occurred to us: that's a three- or four-day routing process."
Shaffer learned that Harpers Ferry would be dispatching its helicopter to Osan, about a three to four hour drive from Chinhae.
"We got the helicopter's departure schedule, loaded the mail on a truck and hauled it to Osan, pretty much minutes before the flight was scheduled to depart," said Shaffer. "But, we made it. The crews got their mail, and they didn't have to wait."
FISC Yokosuka, one of seven supply centers under Commander, Fleet and Industrial Supply Centers (COMFISCS), is the Western Pacific region's largest Navy logistics command, includes more than 20 detachments, fuel terminals and sites from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to Guam, from Misawa, Japan to Sydney, Australia.
COMFISCS comprises more than 6,400 military and civilian logistics professionals operating as a single cohesive team providing global logistics services from more than 200 locations worldwide. A component of the Naval Supply Systems Command, headquartered in Mechanicsburg, Pa., COMFISCS is part of a worldwide logistics network of more than 25,000 military and civilian personnel providing combat capability through logistics.
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