NEWS | Aug. 30, 2017

Joint effort keeps cargo on track

By Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Navy Munitions Command Atlantic Unit Charleston (NMC) and the 628th Logistics Readiness Squadron combined efforts to safely download 76 ammunition containers Aug. 21 and Aug. 22.

The containers were downloaded from the USNS Dahl (T-AKR-312) and transported to the JB Charleston Weapons Station for inspection, inventory and reworking prior to being shipped to U.S. Marines downrange. NMC’s capability to transport munitions from ship to site increases efficiency in download and upload operations.

“Without the railhead, there would be trucks of ordnance traveling by road,” said Jeffrey Hedinger, NMC ordnance operations manager. “Think about having 100 trucks rolling in here with munitions. That would put a great strain on security. The train doesn’t use public roads. It comes straight here and we unload it. The rail system is vital for us.”

Thanks to a rail system and members of the 628th LRS, munitions are transported more securely and with less delay to the civilians and Marines who ensure these assets are up to standard.

“We provide the 628th LRS with a funding document annually to deliver and maintain forklifts and our chassis. We also pay them to operate and maintain the locomotive,” said Hedinger.

Once the 628th LRS delivers the containers, Marines from the NMC’s Marine Corps Liaison Office (MCLO) concentrate on inspecting the containers as they are downloaded from the train by NMC civilians.

“The Marines are on the ground checking placards and labels, making sure the seals are intact and the cans aren’t damaged,” said retired U.S. Marine Mark Lamoureux, NMC Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) work supervisor. “Their job is inventory and accountability of the ammunition. The Marines can tell you what’s in every one of these cans. They know what’s coming out of them and they know what we’re putting back in.”

U.S. Marine Cpl. Melvin Willis, NMC MCLO member, analyzes munitions containers coming to JB Charleston. Willis said he takes his job very seriously due to the nature of what he’s inspecting.

“We check the seals and the container number,” said Willis. “We make sure that we have the correct ammunition for our inventory. I have to do the best I can at my job and make sure that everyone I work with does their job correctly and make sure everyone is safe.”

“Anytime you deal with explosives, safety is the most important thing,” Lamoureux added. “We want to make sure everyone goes home at the end of the day.”

When all munitions have been removed from the train and taken to a site, Marines and civilians continue the inventory process and prepare the ammo for repackaging. Eventually the munitions will be uploaded and transported back to their ship of origin.

“We build, block, brace and seal them,” said Lamoureux. “We make sure the load is stable and the compatibility’s good. When we hear the train is ready and the containers are ready to be shipped, we’ll do the exact opposite of what we’re doing today. My drivers will come in with loaded cans and we’ll put them on the train.”

Lamoureux said that the munitions will be ready to be uploaded to the USNS Dahl toward the end of this year; one step closer to reaching those who can use them.

“We do this for war reserve,” said Hedinger. “It’s starter stock for the Marines to be able to fight a battle. We put these munitions onboard and, in case of war you break the glass and unload it. The Marines have their starter stocks wherever they are needed. It’s the rolling stock, it’s the munitions … it’s everything.”