NEWS | Sept. 27, 2011

USS Vicksburg makes port in Downtown Charleston

By Airman 1st Class Jared Trimarchi Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Leadership from Joint Base Charleston, including more than 30 Airmen, Sailors and civilians, welcomed the crew from the Guided-Missile Cruiser, USS Vicksburg, Sept. 23, pier side downtown Charleston.

Vicksburg moored at the port of Charleston for a three day port visit.

More than 20 Sailors and Airmen from the 628th Logistics Readiness Squadron provided the logistics necessary for the ship's arrival.

"The 628th Logistics Readiness Squadron was responsible for all coordination with the ship prior to its arrival," said Maj. Jason Bowden, 628 LRS operations officer. "Since the ship was berthed downtown, we were the main point of contact between the ship, the base and downtown agencies to include security and morale and welfare agencies."

In addition to arranging transportation for sailors around downtown the 628 LRS also ensured that the necessary equipment was on-hand for operations.

"We needed to transport a brow (gangway used to board and disembark the ship) from the Weapons Station to the wharf downtown," Bowden said. "Additionally, we transported and helped install two floating bumpers between the ship and wharf ensuring there was no damage to either the ship or wharf."

The visit was not the first time the 628 LRS has coordinated a ship visit, Bowden said. The squadron provides logistics for warships and transport ships on a monthly basis.

"Having a Navy chief warrant officer in the squadron with more than 20 years of ship movement experience helps ensure we have a Navy perspective on all of these ship visits and certainly helps us get it right," Bowden said. "This is a pure joint environment for us and we love helping out sister services. The 628 LRS doesn't see this as a Navy reception, but as a Department of Defense reception to Joint Base Charleston. It's just as important as if we were receiving a large Army move into the aerial port."

The crew from the Vicksburg were excited about the reception they received from JB CHS, Bowden said.

"One member aboard commented that this was like a return to home port due to the amount of people we had at the wharf to greet the ship," he said. "The reception was a success and we set the standard for all future ship arrivals for Joint Base Charleston by the outpouring of support from both the Air Force and Navy."

Chief Petty Officer Justin Sweat, an information systems technician from the 628th Communications Squadron, said seeing the ship reminded him of being underway.

"It makes me remember what the Navy is really like," Sweat said. "You get to live for months at sea with 300 of your closest friends and 24 square feet of living space. Even though working in an office and getting to go home every day is great, I miss the grease, the diesel, the smell and the salt."

Leadership from JB CHS met with the leadership from the Vicksburg to brief the Sailors on safety and fun sites to visit while on liberty. During the brief, Joint Base Commander Col. Richard McComb, welcomed the crew to Charleston.

"We are here to support your efforts with open arms and Joint Base Charleston is happy to have the USS Vicksburg here," he said.

Over the weekend, students from the Citadel were given a tour of the ship to see what living at sea is really like.

The Vicksburg is homeported in Mayport, Fla. and its armament consists of two vertical launching systems, Tomahawk missiles, anti-submarine rockets, torpedoes, harpoon missile launchers, two 5'' 54 caliber guns and two 20mm rapid-fire Phalanx close-in weapon system.

"The Air Force has fighter jets and the Navy has its guided-missile cruisers," Bowden said. "Seeing this ship and all its capabilities is a testament to our joint ability to bring the fight to the enemy."