In peace and war, SIU members deliver. Seafarers lived up to that decades-long standard in late October when the USNS LCPL Roy M. Wheat carried “the largest single Army-run shipment of ammunition to Europe in more than two decades,” according to the U.S. Army.
That shipment on the Crowley-operated, SIU-crewed vessel featured more than 600 containers and arrived in Nordenham, Germany, on Oct. 29. The Army and Air Force ammunition then was loaded onto trains and shipped to Miesau Army Depot, Germany, for storage and distribution.
“Seafarers have always done an outstanding job as part of our great nation’s fourth arm of defense,” stated SIU Vice President Contracts George Tricker. “This latest operation is another example of both the dependable work performed by Seafarers as well as the critical importance of maintaining a strong U.S. Merchant Marine.”
“The shipment by itself is special because it’s over 620 containers,” said Lt. Col. Brad Culligan, commander, 838th Transportation Battalion, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command. “We continue to build up the presence in Europe. This will help with reassuring our allies, along with the common defense of Europe if needed.”
Reassuring European allies by increasing the readily available ammunition also increases the readiness of U.S. forces stationed in Europe, the Army pointed out.
“This is about deterrence,” said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commanding general, U.S. Army Europe. “We could have 1,000 tanks over here, but if we didn’t have the ammunition for them they would not have any deterrent effect. It’s another example of the commitment of the United States to security and stability in Europe.”
Culligan, who oversaw the transfer of the cargo from the ship to trains, said the mission required an immense amount of coordination from multiple entities.
“The ship actually belongs to the Military Sealift Command,” Culligan said. “It’s a Military Sealift Command vessel that is crewed and manned by (civilian) Military Sealift personnel underneath the U.S. Navy. We are moving Air Force ammunition as well as Army ammunition so it is truly a joint mission here that is being worked from all levels: from battalion and all the way through the [21st Theater Sustainment Command] and to higher headquarters back in the United States.”
Hodges, who was present for the arrival of the first trainload to Miesau, also commented on the joint nature of the endeavor, adding that German support was a key factor in getting the ammunition where it needed to go. He complimented the mariners, soldiers, contractors and German local national employees who made the mission a success.
“I am so impressed with the quality of the work force out here,” Hodges said.
Personnel at the depot started unloading and breaking down the shipment for storage or movement to other locations as it arrived. Ammunition will later be moved to various locations throughout Europe.
“It’s the ultimate theater sustainment,” Culligan concluded. “We’re bringing ammunition into the theater to resupply and set the stage for the European theater for any type of exercises or potential future missions that may come about.”
SIU members sailing aboard the Wheat during the cargo delivery included ABs Larry Byrd, Jonathan Anderson, Dominick Corbitt, Terry Hester, John Paul and Derrick Alexander, OS Johnny Matthews, QEE Douglas McLaughlin, QE4s Keith McIntosh, Kofi Asamani and Haeven Bautista, Storekeeper Christopher Flood, GUDE Arthur Cummings, GVA Donita Dowdell, Steward/Baker Rhonda Jenkins, Chief Cook Emmanuel Matias and SA Tony Jenkins.
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