Fourth Arm of Defense Teams with Military for Yearly Exercise
Practice isn’t just for athletes or musicians – it’s also important for the merchant mariners who serve as America’s fourth arm of defense.
SIU members aboard the USNS 2nd Lt. John P. Bobo recently demonstrated the value of dress rehearsals as they teamed with military personnel for part of Freedom Banner 2014, a yearly exercise that tests U.S. sealift capability. Operated by Maersk Line, Limited for the U.S. Military Sealift Command (MSC), the Bobo arrived at the South Korean port of Gwangyang March 9 carrying Marines, Navy Sailors and approximately 1,000 tons of materiel. During the next few days, hundreds of pieces of cargo were offloaded, including containers and military vehicles.
Bosun Brian Guiry commended the work of his fellow Seafarers during the operation, which focused on honing prepositioning ship offloading capabilities in support of an amphibious assault exercise.
“This definitely shows that the vessel is militarily useful and more cost-effective for the government than other options,” Guiry added.
According to MSC, this year, Freedom Banner “provided the military hardware for a III Marine Expeditionary Force exercise to be held at various sites throughout the Republic of Korea.” The operation was scheduled to end around mid-April.
“All exercises are defensive in nature and provide opportunity for strengthening relationships and interoperability between Republic of Korea and U.S. forces,” the agency added.
Members of the SIU Government Services Division also supported Freedom Banner 2014. The dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Sacagawea carried an advance team of Marines and Sailors to Gwangyang in addition to delivering wheeled vehicles.
“The way we’ve designed Freedom Banner 14 is to simulate how we would come to support the Republic of Korea during a time of crisis,” said Col. Walter T. Anderson, the G-4 assistant chief of staff for the III Marine Expeditionary Force Command Element. “We’ve [brought] in elements that would prepare the camp to receive the ship, its personnel and equipment which will be used in follow-on exercises.”
He added, “The process of the offload is classified as reception, staging, onward movement and integration. The vessel comes into port and begins discharging all its assets which are then matched with their respective units. After that, the supplies are moved forward into arrival and assembly areas before they are finally integrated into … exercises.”
“The offload went smoothly and I think it was a good opportunity to flex our maritime prepositioning force muscles and prove to the nation and our partners that together we have a solid standing presence,” noted Navy Capt. Leonard Remias, commander of Maritime Prepositioning Squadron Three, MSC Far East.
SIU members aboard the Bobo during the exercise included Guiry, Bosun Paul Johnson, ABs Glenard Chaney, Jason Baker, Mikhail Pinchevskiy, Raymond Garcia-Maldonado and Hector Regalado, OSs Anders Bland, Harrison Hawkins, Anthony Heck and Lawton Sholes, QEE Danilo Martin, QE4 Billie Marshall, QEP Troy Ancar, QE4 Steven Supplee, Storekeeper Sheree Brown, GUDE James May, Chief Steward Alice Kwasnjuk, Chief Cook Kenneth Smith, and SAs Emelene Lopez, Shelby Curtis, Randy Soriano, Jasmine Garrett, Hazza Hussein and Ashley Lee.