By Sgt. Thomas Belton
| Exercise News Day | July 30, 2018
The large tug MG Henry Knox begins towing the barge derrick out to the open ocean during Big Logistics-Over-the-Shore West July 17, 2018. Large tugs can operate for up to 30 days at sea performing tow operations, salvage and recovery operations, and a firefighting service. (Photo by Sgt. Thomas Belton)
The large tug MG Henry Knox tows the barge derrick out to sea during Big Logistics-Over-the-Shore West, July 17, 2018. The large tug will tow the barge derrick to the coast of southern Oregon to simulate travel times between American military ports. (Photo by Sgt. Thomas Belton)
The small tug Mulberry peels off after guiding the barge derrick crane out to the inner harbor during Big Logistics-Over-the-Shore West, July 17, 2018. Big LOTS West 2018 is an annual U.S. Army Reserve, multi-echelon functional exercise designed for transportation units and sustainment command to hone their expertise in Logistics Over-the-Shore (LOTS) operations. (Photo by Sgt. Thomas Belton)
Spc. Megan Hammond, a deckhand from the 467th Transportation Company, hauls lines in so the small tug Schohare can undock and assist with maneuvering the barge derrick during Big Logistics-Over-the-Shore West, July 17, 2018. Small tugs are essential to making sure the barge derrick is traveling the correct course to avoid damage to itself and other vessels. (Photo by Sgt. Thomas Belton)
The massive 200-foot barge derrick crane behind CW3 Thomas Heald, from the 467th Transportation Company, backs up his statement. Capable of lifting nearly 130 tons at 175 feet with an 80-foot crane, this crane grants Army Reserve watercraft units an unprecedented ability to haul cargo, conduct salvage operations, clear port channels and berths, and removing obstacles.
Today’s mission: testing the large tug’s ability to tow it out to open sea.
“We’re preparing to haul the barge derrick crane to prove we can move vessels from pier-side to the open ocean, said Heald. “It provides proof of principle that we can haul vessels from say, Japan to Korea.”
Towing a vessel as large as a BD crane is no small feat. Countless man-hours go into preparing the BD for a tow, with a large tugboat guiding the BD, and two small tugboats to assist with maneuvering.
“Taking the barge derrick out to the open ocean isn’t something you take lightly,” said Heald. “You have to make sure everything is secured properly, you have to watch weather condition, plan for safe havens along the way in case the weather does turn on you. Taking the barge out is the result of months of planning and preparation.”
That preparation goes all the way down to the small tug crews assisting with the maneuvering.
“We’ll conduct drills to maintain our proficiency,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Maravale, a watercraft operator from the 467th Transportation Company. “We practice firefighting, damage control and man overboard drills to remain proficient during our missions.”
Watercraft units don’t just haul cargo; however, the 467th assists local law enforcement, and nearby environmental agencies.
“We’ll do missions all throughout the year,” said Heald. “Occasionally we’ll have missions of opportunity to assist with pulling derelict nets off the bottom of the ocean and help local law enforcement with maritime scenario training environments.”
Army Reserve watercraft units also provide the ability to reach across branches and conduct joint operations.
“We work with the Navy divers,” stated Heald. “I can haul one of my barges to store their equipment, provide meals, and berthing for their dive qualifications.”
Watercraft units ensure Army Reserve Soldiers remain at the tip of the spear, conducting vital missions and hauling valuable supplies to combatant commanders across multiple theaters of engagement.
“When we do our job, we’re out in the Pacific, the Persian Gulf, or the Caribbean,” said Heald. We’re moving cargo for people and we’re doing real world missions.”