SAN DIEGO, Calif. –
The construction was part of Big Logistics-Over-The-Shore – West, a joint military training exercise designed to reinforce the 1394th Transportation Brigade's ability to rapidly deploy vital combat equipment to an operational environment.
The causeway, known as a roll-on/roll-off discharge facility, allows for the rapid unloading of cargo from larger ships to unimproved beaches or smaller ships by acting as a floating pier.
“If we were to head to a wartime area, the causeway platform can be used to offload any kind of mission combat teams, mission combat equipment, from a ship to shore,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Conklin, a member of the 331st Transportation Company from Fort Eustis, Virginia. “We would be moving any kind of combat equipment from ship to shore, as well as any ammo from ship to shore.”
Active duty Soldiers from the 331st had to construct two modular warping tugs, boats used to control larger vessels, before they could assemble the RRDF.
“What we’re working on is a warping tug; it’s used to steer other boats and the sections of the causeway into place,” said Pfc. Edward Djilan, a watercraft engineer with the 331st, “We’re using it here to take the pier from point A to point B.”
Constructing the causeway was a large undertaking. The system used in the Port of San Diego called for 172 pieces to be assembled, said Staff Sgt. Toney Burnette, a causeway pilot with the 331st. Each piece is extremely heavy, but the system still floats even under heavy loads thanks to the large air pockets inside of it.
Soldiers from the U.S. Army Reserve Command’s 250th Transportation Company delivered the causeway pieces to the port, allowing them to get experience transporting heavy loads in a realistic mission.
Spc. Lee Southby, a truck driver with the 250th, assisted in training younger members of his unit during the drive and while waiting to unload the company’s trucks in the port.
“I want most of the junior enlisted to get used to carrying a heavy load,” he said. “They don’t usually carry anything this heavy. It helps them build confidence at the wheels of the trucks.”
Navy Sailors from the Port of San Diego and the U.S. Naval Ship Bob Hope assisted in the training and construction, allowing everyone involved to get better at joint operations and to see how other branches work through problems.
“Being mission ready is extremely important to being a lethal force, so you have to have really trained Soldiers and conducting operations like this keeps our Soldiers skills very sharp,” said Conklin.
“These missions are a great training event,” he continued. “They assist our Soldiers and also our fellow team members of any branch just become a closer team and to get the mission done.”
Once completed, the causeway would allow for Soldiers to drive large vehicles and other equipment off of the Bob Hope and onto the RRDF while near the target shore. They could then drive onto smaller vessels and be ferried to warfighters on the coast.