Thursday, January 28, 2010

Operation Unified Response Support Flows Nonstop

By Kaylee LaRocque, Naval Air Station Jacksonville Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville civilian and military personnel have been working nonstop at the airfield palletizing thousands of pounds of materials for shipment to Haiti as part of Operation Unified Response.

As of Jan. 26, NAS Jacksonville personnel have filled 22 C-130s Hercules, 11 C-40s Clippers, seven Boeing 747s and one C-17 Globemaster III with 2.3 million pounds of water, food, medical supplies, tents and radios for the relief effort in Haiti following an earthquake Jan. 12.

"Since we began supporting Operation Unified Response, we've unloaded approximately 60 semi trucks filled with water, humanitarian daily rations, tents and medical supplies and have spent days preparing them for transport and loading them onto cargo planes headed to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and then on to Haiti," said Doug Chaney, NAS Jacksonville airfield facilities manager. "We are also supporting personnel transports to Cuba, USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and Haiti. VRC 30 (Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30) has been in and out of here continuously to support the Vinson. And now, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) is off the coast conducting workups so we are supporting the aircraft for their training. That plus all the C-130s coming in from National Guard units all over the country, the C-17s and 747s, we are extremely busy."

"We are working extremely close with the airfield manager at Guantanamo Bay so we don't inundate them with aircraft. We have become their holding ramp until we're cleared to send the cargo planes south. We are also trying to stay ahead of the game by having pallets ready to go when the aircraft arrive here so they leave with full loads. This has been a huge challenge with cargo issues and coordinating all the flights," continued Chaney.

"But, the NAS Jacksonville team has stepped up to help with this mission. They've pulled together and are helping in any way they can. We have no idea how long this will last, but we'll do what we need to in support of the relief efforts," added Chaney. "We've been working hand-in-hand with Defense Distribution Depot Jacksonville personnel who have been awesome. They've provided me with forklifts, drivers, pallets, strapping and anything I need to get the job done – all I have to do is make a call."

Chaney was also quick to mention the military members helping with the mission.

"Sailors from various departments and tenant commands have been extremely busy building pallets and helping in any way they can. It's taking a toll, but this is when we are at our best," he said.

NAS Jacksonville Sailors and civilians work diligently to get the job done in order to get supplies to those in need. Sam Brown, NAS Jacksonville Air Operations Department airfield facilities division cargo handler, has been working long hours unloading trucks and loading numerous aircraft in support of the relief efforts.

"We have a good supervisor here and don't have too much stress. We know what needs to be done and we do it no matter how long it takes or how many trucks come in to be unloaded. However, I wish I was in Haiti," said Brown.

Chief Logistics Specialist (AW/SW) Reuben Amarh from U.S. 4th Fleet has been working at NAS Jacksonville since Jan. 15, helping coordinate the loading of the cargo planes.

"We just keep loading these aircraft with materials until the mission is accomplished. The people here have really been great palletizing the items, moving the pallets and loading the aircraft. Everything has been running pretty smoothly," said Amarh.

A team of air traffic controllers from NAS Jacksonville's Air Department work to keep the aircraft continually coming and going in a safe, efficient manner.

"NAS Jacksonville Air Traffic Control Division has had to step up manning levels to handle the increase of air traffic operations in support of Haiti relief efforts. The airfield is supporting these efforts 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Lt. Michael Fahnestock from NAS Jacksonville's Air Department.

"What is challenging is that the controllers are working with an increase of larger aircraft such as Boeing 747s, C-130s and C-40s, which require more landing/departing separation between aircraft due to wake turbulence criteria. These additional operations are taking place along with our normal operations; however, with the experience staff on duty, there have been minimal delays," said Fahnestock.

So until the mission is complete, NAS Jacksonville personnel will continue to work together to support the Navy's participation in Operation Unified Response.