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Homeland Security

Tortuga and Army Teaming Up

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050915-15
Release Date: 9/15/2005 3:41:00 PM

By Journalist 3rd Class Brian Seymour, USS Tortuga Public Affairs

NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- The amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46), homeported in Little Creek, Va., continues to support Hurricane Katrina humanitarian assistance efforts here, including U.S. Army personnel.

Tortuga is providing logistical support to the Army in addition to conducting its own search and rescue missions and providing housing for more than 170 displaced residents from the New Orleans area.

The Army’s 307th Engineer Battalion of the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., has established its Tactical Operations Center (TOC) near Tortuga’s pier at Naval Support Activity (NSA) New Orleans.

“We wanted to be close to everything,” said 82nd Airborne Operations Officer Army Maj. Jason Smallfield. “Being so close to the ship has given us more of an understanding for the way the Navy conducts their operations.”

Smallfield added that Tortuga has been instrumental in providing support to the paratroopers of the airborne division and engineering battalion.

“The ship has given many of us beds to sleep in, three meals a day, showers and laundry services,” he said.

Smallfield said Tortuga serves as more than simply a floating inn for his soldiers. The ship arrived on station Sept. 4, and its crew immediately began conducting SAR operations on its own. When the 82nd Airborne arrived in New Orleans Sept. 5, the two military units began working together setting up command posts along the Mississippi River to deploy SAR teams.

“Working with Tortuga has been extremely educational for us,” said Smallfield. “It’s interesting to learn about the operational capabilities of a Navy amphibious ship. “At the beginning, we didn’t know each other’s capabilities. We’d say, ‘Let’s all work toward a common goal and get the job done together’.”

This mission is an example of large-scale efforts of the armed forces’ operational flexibility in a joint military environment.

“All branches of the military share a common goal in mission accomplishment and operate under the same concepts when given a task to complete,” said Smallfield. “However, working with the Navy is almost like learning a foreign language.”

Tortuga and the 82nd Airborne continue to support one another during SAR operations ashore. While Tortuga provides logistical support to the soldiers, the paratroopers continue to provide cargo and personnel transportation to the Sailors who have been taking part in rescue operations.

The 82nd Airborne uses its 5-ton dump trucks and Light Mobility Terrain Vehicles (LMTV) to transport the Sailors and their Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC) to flooded areas.

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