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LOADEX Sharpens PHIBCB 2’s Rapid Response Skills

Photos by MC3 Taylor Mohr, PHIBCB 2 Public Affairs

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Seabees assigned to PHIBCB 2, homeported in Virginia Beach, Va., hang on to the towline of an INLS Warping Tug during a Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) download operation known as the Blount Island Command Exercise (BICEX), Aug. 6. The INLS craft are used to ferry vehicles and supplies from the ship to the shore in support of humanitarian aid and combat missions. 

Seabees and Sailors assigned to subordinate commands under Naval Beach Group (NBG) 2, along with Marines from 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (II MEB) and Sailors from Naval Cargo Handling Battalion (NCHB) 1, conducted an in-stream download of equipment and cargo using Improved Navy Lighterage System (INLS) craft from the USNS SEAY (T-AKR302), a Bob Hope-class cargo vessel, for delivery to the Marine Corps Support Facility Blount Island, Jacksonville, Fla. This multi-service delivery took part during the annual Maritime Prepositioning Force Exercise (MPFEX-14), July 28 to Aug. 14.

The exercise provided active and reserve personnel assigned to NBG 2 and various subordinate commands real-time training needed to remain mission ready. In addition, personnel worked to offload vehicles, containers and equipment from the SEAY,

and conducted routine maintenance and upgrades prior to being re-embarked and re-deployed to Diego Garcia as part of MPFEX-14.

“We figured this is a great way to give our Sailors some great in-stream training and show that the commands under Naval Beach Group 2 can work together seamlessly,” said LT John Brayman, assistant operations officer, Amphibious Construction Battalion (PHIBCB) 2.

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Seabees assigned to PHIBCB 2, homeported in Virginia Beach, Va., watch as an INLS Power Module gets lowered into the water during the Blount Island Command Exercise (BICEX), Naval Station Mayport, Fla., Aug. 6.

NCHB 1 used four shipboard cranes to offload containers and rolling stock onto INLS causeway ferries operated by Seabees from PHIBCB 1 and 2 that were moored alongside the ship.

“The weather has been off and on since we have been out here,” said Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jordan Mckeel, a craftmaster assigned to PHIBCB 2. “It can be pretty difficult to maneuver and unload the equipment when the seas are rough, but the main thing is we are trying to keep things as safe as we can.”

After being loaded at the SEAY, the causeway ferries are driven to one of two beach locations for offloading. When the craft arrives at its offload location, Beachmaster Unit 2 controls and guides the craft into a designated beach lane where the Marines unload the cargo as they would during an actual operation.

“All levels of the leadership were very impressed with the work our Sailors and Seabees performed and the professionalism with which they handled themselves,” said Cmdr. Robert Tetreault, operations officer, PHIBCB 2. “Many people worked 12-hour days out in the hot sun, [but] nobody was injured and we successfully accomplished the training objectives of the exercise despite the occasional bad weather. It was a high-quality training exercise with our NBG 2 partners, NCHB 1 and the Marines of II MEB.”

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A PHIBCB 2 INLS Power Module sits alongside the USNS Seay (T-AKR-302) awaiting retrieval after being offloaded during the Blount Island Command Exercise (BICEX), Naval Station Mayport, Fla., Aug. 6. The Seay is a Bob Hope-class roll-on roll-off cargo ship assigned to U.S. Sealift Command used to house and transport military vehicles and equipment during humanitarian aid and wartime missions.

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USNS Seay (T-AKR 302), a Bob Hope-class roll-on roll-off vehicle cargo ship, offloads cargo onto a PHIBCB 2 INLS causeway ferry during the annual Blount Island Command Exercise (BICEX), Naval Station Mayport, Fla., Aug. 7. 


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