Ocean Freedom Assists in Military Exercise


October 2015


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Editor’s note: Recertified Bosun Joseph Casalino submitted this article and some of the accompanying photos reflecting the SIU-crewed Ocean Freedom’s participation in the multinational military exercise Combined Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (CJLOTS) 2015. The Crowley-operated vessel is one of several Seafarers-crewed ships that supported CJLOTS 2015, as reported in prior editions of the LOG.


According to the U.S. Navy, these operations “are military activities that include offshore loading and unloading of ships when fixed port facilities are unavailable or denied due to enemy activities. LOTS operations are conducted over unimproved shorelines, through fixed ports not accessible to deep draft shipping, and through fixed ports that are otherwise inadequate without the use of LOTS capabilities.”


More than 1,700 people took part in the CJLOTS 2015 exercise, including military personnel from the U.S. and the Republic of Korea (ROK). The operation, which took place June 29 through July 9 at the Anmyeon Beach on the west coast of the ROK, demonstrated the respective nations’ ability to transfer solid and liquid cargo from the sea to the shore.


During the months of June and July 2015, the heavy lift vessel M/V Ocean Freedom was tasked with a CJLOTS exercise for the U.S. Army’s 331st Transportation Company.


The scenario was a beachhead landing using floating platforms, or a causeway system, stretching out over 1,800 feet from the beach. The Ocean Freedom carried approximately 60 sections of causeway, each 80 feet long and weighing 66 tons, along with various types of tugs, landing craft and anchoring systems, bulldozers and other heavy equipment needed for this beachhead landing.


After loading the cargo in Yokohama, Japan, we sailed to Korea where the exercise was to take place. We anchored approximately two miles from shore. The discharging of this cargo took place while anchored, and was handled around the clock by the ship’s crew, led by Captain Brian O’Hanlon, an SIU hawsepiper, manning the ballast controls.


The tireless efforts of heavy lift crane operators AB James Morris, AB Billy Watson and Recertified Bosun Joe Casalino kept the cargo moving. Our AMO officers, Chief Mate Matt Sanford, 2nd Mate Mike Erskine, and 3/M Mike Rawlins ran the operations with pinpoint accuracy on their respective shifts, 24-7.


Our two Kings Point Cadets, Alex Nicosia and Evan Purdy were called upon for a variety of tasks. They learned quick and worked extremely hard to get the job done. They are a credit to the USMMA.


This team effort wouldn’t be complete without the mention of our steward and engine departments. Steward Obencio Espinoza kept the excellent meals coming, along with our ACU Darrell Bell, staying open late many times to accommodate the busy schedule, always with a smile and great attitude.


Meanwhile, our engine department, with QMED Vincent (Ace) Kirksey and Oiler Bobby Conner supported the effort by making sure – along with engineers Chief Chuck Nieves, 1st Assistant Engineer Gary Gilbert and 2nd Assistant Engineer Alan Dorn – that the cranes were running at peak performance levels at all times.


The crew worked together through heavy rains, fog, and blistering heat to assist the 331st Transportation Company in this exercise in an organized and professional manner. This is what we are trained for. We were efficient and safety-conscious in everything we took on.


We finished this discharge approximately five days earlier than predicted by the Army, due to the knowledgeable officers and crew on this heavy lift vessel. Back-loading two weeks later, we sailed back to Yokohama to discharge again. It was a job well done by the SIU and AMO working together as one.


We were told that this causeway system was the longest platform put together since the Korean War, an historic milestone for the U.S. Army’s 331 Transportation Company as well as the heavy lift vessel M/V Ocean Freedom.

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