NORFOLK, Virginia -- If you’ve ever had a sip of Ceylon tea and wondered where it came from, look no further than Sri Lanka – a destination where members of the Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support (NAVSUP WSS) Transportation and Distribution (T&D) division recently assisted U.S. Seventh Fleet (7th Fleet) in expanding logistics support services.
In late August, during a scheduled port visit by the amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23), part of the forward deployed 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, embarked U.S. Sailors and Marines got a chance to interact with the Sri Lankan Navy and Marine Corps in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, as well as host nation support services. While the primary purpose of the visit was performing other at-sea theater security cooperation exercises with the Sri Lankan Navy, medical response training and enjoying a port visit, the visit was also an opportunity for 7th Fleet to explore local logistics support services for visiting naval forces operating throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
The multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) also took part in the logistics hub demonstration with a vertical onboard delivery while off the coast of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.
A team of seven from NAVSUP WSS T&D, based out of Norfolk, Virginia, provided subject matter expertise on identifying test material, procedures for proper government requisition and issue of materiel, and for planning efforts that have a direct impact on current transportation and distribution practices. This expertise also enabled a greater understanding of challenges when faced with a crisis or humanitarian aid/disaster relief (HADR) operation.
“This visit and training will build our shared capacity to respond to humanitarian emergencies in the Indo-Pacific region,” said Robert Hilton, Chargé d’affaires ad interim of the United States Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka, at the onset of the port visit. “We’re also excited to try out the air logistics hub concept which utilizes Sri Lanka’s strategic location in the Indian Ocean to ensure the quick availability of relief supplies, equipment and other material when needed by the U.S. and partner militaries and humanitarian organizations.”
For 7th Fleet, it was the first opportunity to test a temporary air logistics hub concept in a strategic geographic location such as Sri Lanka. Working off the “hub and spoke” concept, the logistics hub consisted of the use of an airstrip and storage facilities to receive large-scale shipments in a remote port to be parceled out into smaller shipments heading in various directions, as well as the streamlined functionality of an expeditionary logistics support group – a capability that is valuable during a HADR mission.
According to Kacey Lorson, Deputy Director of T&D, the team also assisted by coordinating movement of frustrated (stalled) shipments and worked with commercial carriers to address abnormalities in some of the intended shipment types and destinations.
“We also provided performance metrics regarding customer wait times,” Lorson said, “but I think we really came through when we provided assistance on a real-world Category III (equipment) Casualty Report, where we helped to expedite and track its expeditious shipment to Sri Lanka among a more challenging, remote environment.”
Through opportunities like this, NAVSUP WSS demonstrates its capabilities as the Navy’s Program Support Inventory Control Point, managing the supply chain from end to end.
A field activity of the Naval Supply Systems Command, NAVSUP WSS provides Navy, Marine Corps, joint and allied forces with products and services that deliver combat capability through logistics. There are more than 2,000 civilian and military personnel employed at its two Pennsylvania sites, and one site in Norfolk, Virginia.