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Maritime Logistics Community News : Summer 2010
12 NAVY SUPPLY NEWSLETTER SUMMER 2010 By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks measuring 4.5 or greater had been recorded in the area. Significant irrepairable damage had been done with early estimation from the Haitian Government reporting that an estimated 230,000 people had died, 300,000 had been injured and 1,000,000 made homeless. Two days after the earthquake devastated Haiti the United States Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) rapidly mobilized relief efforts in order to procure and transport vital supplies to thousands of people in need. For my small supply team at Logistics Support Centre (LSC) Mayport the usual daily routine would soon be a distant memory as we would mobilize ourselves into supporting a worldwide responsive relief effort. The location of Mayport Naval Station and Jacksonville Naval Air Station (36 miles away) placed both bases at the epicentre of the relief effort. Being the closest military infrastructure to the devastated country of Haiti Jacksonville Air Station was quickly established as the supply point for air cargo with Mayport Naval Station assigned for sea cargo. For those external to relief effort the initial response to the disaster appeared slow with the first Military Sealift Command (MSC) Ship (joint civilian and military cargo ships) not arriving in Mayport until 10 days after the earthquake had hit. The underlying cause for this was that amongst the widespread devastation and damage throughout Port-au-Prince and elsewhere, vital infrastructure necessary to respond to the disaster was either severely damaged or destroyed hampering rescue and aid efforts. This included all hospitals in the capital; air, sea, and land transport facilities as well as communication systems. Before relief could be flown in or transported by sea the US NAVY and ARMY initially had to deploy engineering teams to repair infrastructure, airfields and wharves critical to facilitate the movement and delivery of vital aid resources. Having never been a part of a disaster relief effort, I was unsure of what would be required from LSC Mayport however, it soon became apparent that no-one was certain of how the relief operation would work. Before the first ship arrived into Mayport I had lost a Petty Officer to Guantanamo Bay Cuba in aid of the relief effort, I was one Leading Seaman short due to posting cycles and about to lose a Seaman to maternity leave. This left a Chief, a Petty Officer, a Leading Seaman and I to respond to, and organize a multitude of ship resupply efforts. In the initial stages of the relief effort there was convolution and confusion in the chain of command structure between Fourth Fleet , NAVSUP and the Fleet Industrial Supply Centre (FISC) with the delineation of responsibility still being "worked on". Knowing I had a ship arriving in two days and a warehouse full of aid supplies and no real way ahead I emailed the newly appointed FISC Commanding Officer, CAPT Joyce Robinson directly and told her that my team and I would treat the UNIFIED RESPONSE vessels like any other visiting ship. That meant that LSC Mayport would respond to LOGREQS, co- ordinate manifests for ships in the AOR and organize the receipt, delivery, and record the on load of relief supplies and provisions being on loaded until given direction not to do so. The strain of too much Command interest from internal Navy organisations, external agencies, outside sources and opposing personalities would hit 4 hours into the first onload of USNS LEWIS AND CLARK which resulted in confusion, frustration and tension amongst organisations that were supposed to be working together, in what was no exercise but a real time disaster relief mission. Having not heard the command to stop loading the ship by Captain Robinson we continued to load the ship from 0600 breaking at 0200 to reconvene at 0700. Once all stores were onboard and the LEWIS AND CLARK sailed from Mayport I realized that the LSC was understaffed. While we had efficiently and effectively loaded the first ship we were all exhausted, had another ship arriving for onload in 3 days and still needed to maintain our core duties of overseeing the logistics of 21 homeported vessels, visiting submarines and 2 littoral combat ships in the area. What Disaster Assistance for Haiti On 12 January 2010, 1653 local time, a catastrophic earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 hit the town of Léogâne, approximately 25 km west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. BY LEUT S WHITEMAN, RAN Mayport Wharf filling up with relief supplies LEUT Whiteman overseeing food onload with Cheif Cook Palermo