USS CARTER HALL, At Sea -- USS Carter Hall conducted a stern gate transfer with the assistance of U.S. Army vessels to facilitate the movement of elements of 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit going ashore to conduct scheduled sustainment training in Kuwait, Dec. 23.
U.S. Army logistics support vessel, USAV SP/4 James A. Loux and landing craft utility USAV Molino Del Rey, as well as U.S. Navy landing craft air cushions, were used to complete this rare interoperability evolution.
“Without pulling into a pier in Kuwait, the only way we could successfully off-load everything in such a timely manner was with the assistance of the LSV, LCACs,” said Marine Chief Warrant Officer Shawn Chabot, Carter Hall’s combat cargo officer. “The crews on the Army ships were instrumental in the process and enabled us to complete a three-day offload in just one day.”
“USS Carter Hall was fortunate to be a part of this interoperability experience,” said Lt. Rebecca Domzalski, 1st lieutenant aboard Carter Hall. “We brought in Army craft to our stern gate, which the Carter Hall has never done before, and since the LSV are much larger than the vessels we usually use, it enabled us to complete the mission in 18 hours.”
More than 400 Marines and sailors, 175 pieces of cargo and 80 pieces of rolling stock or wheeled vehicles were transferred from Carter Hall to the other ships through the ship’s stern gate.
“The process is carefully orchestrated and planned out so all of the vehicles come off the transport ships in a certain order,” said Marine Gunnery Sgt. William Baldwin, combat cargo assistant aboard Carter Hall. “Depending on where they are located on the ship, we may have to maneuver vehicles around to get them off the ship in a pre-determined order.”
Because of the limited space on the ship, strict cooperation from many people and departments was necessary to ensure that things ran smoothly.
“It started with planning between combat cargo and 26 MEU to come up with a strategy on how they planned on phasing their forces off the ship,” said Chabot. “We build load plans and then it just becomes systematic as far as what needs to come off first and where it is located on the ship. It involved moving around a lot of vehicles and a lot of heavy pieces of equipment in very small, confined spaces.”
Chabot also expressed that this was a team effort, requiring the entire crew to do the offload. “Combat cargo, deck department, engineers, operations department and other various individuals came together with the Army and Marines to accomplish this mission,” he said. “It was truly a collective effort.”
Carter Hall is part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.