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NEWS | July 20, 2015

599th Team Shines during Fisher Offload at Pearl Harbor

By Mrs. Donna Klapakis (SDDC)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- The 599th Transportation Brigade and its partners offloaded 25th Infantry Division cargo and equipment July 9-12 from the USNS Fisher here as it returned from Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

In addition to 599th headquarters personnel, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command personnel were a deployment and distribution management team from the 836th Transportation Battalion out of Yokohama North Dock, Japan, and the Guam Detachment. Personnel from 25th I.D., Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor, Military Sealift Command, Navy cargo handling battalions, and the 302nd Trans. Bn. completed the discharge team.

"This operation went well because of good teamwork on all sides," said traffic management specialist Frank Viray, 599th headquarters operations chief for the offload. "The only slight glitch was that we had an initial problem with having enough palletized load system drivers, but the 25th I.D. got right on it, and the cargo and equipment was moving fast by the night shift."

Maj. Shannon Johnson, executive officer for the 836th Transportation Battalion, was the team lead for the DDMT.

"This is one of the best joint operations I've seen. Everyone was all about working together and with us to get the equipment off that ship," Johnson said.

Johnson had particularly high praise for the FLC Pearl Harbor terminals crew.

"The whole FLC Pearl Harbor crew is great to get along with," Johnson said. "We come in, and they have our work spaces set up. They have welcomed our capabilities that we are able to provide them during these missions.

"Everything went very well, with good synchronization," Johnson added. "The [rehearsal of concept] drill before the mission was wonderful. It involved SDDC, FLC-PH, and 25th I.D., MSC and Navy cargo handling battalion personnel all in the same room.

Sgt. Maj. Bradley, Waters, 836th Trans. Bn. senior enlisted advisor, agreed.

The concept of operations briefing we had with all of the players really made a difference. Everyone knows what their own job is during a move, but it's crucial that all the players get together to know what the others are doing and how to communicate.

Johnson also commended Navy cargo handling battalion personnel.

"Whenever there was an issue or setback of any kind they were very innovative. They were safe, productive, and they got the equipment off that ship," she said.

Navy cargo handling battalion personnel acted as the actual stevedores for the move. They began unlashing the cargo as soon as the ship pulled into port July 9.

"We arrived July 7, two days before the offload began," said Johnson. "All of our IT equipment was new across the board, so it was very important that everyone get together early to make sure everything was working."

Nicholas Rosse, IT specialist at the 599th, worked the day shift during the offload.

"We had some problems with the new equipment, but we were able to develop workarounds," he said.

"Of the new equipment, the new D-GATES [Deployable Global Air Transportation Execution System] is a real positive. This new system takes less than half the time to configure when you take the system offline to use it for the mission," Rosse said.

Johnson said teamwork with 25th I.D. personnel also kept the offload flowing.

"Twenty-fifth I.D. cooperation was wonderful. We had constant interaction with the defense transportation office and their reps, specifically with the mobility officers that were present. All were engaged.

"As the chains were being broken, the maintenance teams checked to make sure the vehicles worked. That way they could fix them before they needed to roll off. This drastically reduced the down time we had with deadlined equipment."

Waters said the move was finished earlier than predicted.

"We had projected four days for the move, but we finished in three," said Waters. "I put that down to the great teamwork.

"Within the first 24 hours we were about a third of the way finished. Then, on our second day shift and the second night shift they really picked it up. They did two-thirds in the next 24 hours, versus one-third in the first," he added.

Everything was off the ship by July 11 at 2 p.m., and the ship departed July 12 at 1:48 p.m., said Viray.

The large, medium-speed, roll-on, roll-off ship USNS Fisher was christened in 1997. Although LMSRs usually bear the full name of the person for whom they are named, Zachary Fisher, the founder of Fisher House, requested that the ship be called only Fisher, to honor his entire family.

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