Winter Freeze Doesn’t Stop Amphib ‘Bees

Story and photos by MC3 Taylor Mohr, PHIBCB 2 Public Affairs

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Seabees assigned to PHIBCB 2 and BMU 2, as well as Soldiers from the 11th Transportation Battalion, conduct Logistics Over the Shore (LOTS) at Anzio Beach during Exercise Blue Heron, Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va., Feb. 20

As the winter storm known as the “Siberian Express” chilled the East Coast  and blanketed southern Virginia with more than nine inches of snow, Seabees and Sailors assigned to Naval Beach Group (NBG) 2, along with Soldiers assigned to the 11th Transportation Battalion, braved the weather and carried on with Exercise Blue Heron at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Virginia Beach, Va.

The purpose of the exercise was to increase the interoperability between NBG 2 and the Army’s 11th Transportation Battalion to conduct joint logisitics over the shore (JLOTS) operations. JLOTS is a complex system performed by both Navy and Army personnel that uses multiple craft and systems to deliver vehicles, equipment and supplies from ship-to-shore.

“Most of the regular surface Navy doesn’t really see or understand what we do when it comes to JLOTS operations,” said Capt. Marc Delao, commanding officer, Amphibious Construction Battalion (PHIBCB) 2. “This exercise was a good way to show our leadership what goes on after the craft and equipment leaves the well deck, and that we can even do it in adverse conditions.”

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Seabees assigned to PHIBCB 2 and BMU 2, as well as Soldiers assigned to the 11th Transportation Battalion, conduct Logistics Over the Shore (LOTS) at Anzio Beach during Exercise Blue Heron, Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va., Feb. 20. The purpose of the exercise was to increase interoperability between Army and Navy commands during Joint Logistics Over the Shore (JLOTS) missions. 

While other military personel in the area took snow days due to the treacherous road conditions, active and reserve NBG 2 and Army personnel pushed forward with the exercise.

“It was a good opportunity to show the Army and the higher ups that our guys are tough and they can get the job done no matter what,” said Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jordan McKeel, a craftmaster assigned to PHIBCB 2. “Even though most of our guys are not in the Seabee rating, everyone wears the Seabee patch or the warfare pin on our uniform, and tries to maintain the Seabee ‘Can Do’ spirit.”

Despite the below-freezing temperatures, Sailors and Soldiers worked together seamlessly and carried out the mission in an efficient and professional manner.

“The snow and single-digit temperatures provided an excellent, if impromptu, opportunity to operate and train in less-than-optimal conditions,” said Capt. Richard Metzger, battalion plans officer assigned to the 11th Transportation Battalion. “Leaders had to adapt to changing weather conditions and effectively manage their subordinates and equipment.  The Soldiers and Sailors did a tremendous job mitigating risk to ensure the exercise was a success.”

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Seabees assigned to PHIBCB 2, as well as Soldiers assigned to the 11th Transportation Battalion, conduct Logistics Over the Shore (LOTS) as they drive vehicles off of an INLS Causeway Ferry onto Anzio Beach during Exercise Blue Heron,  Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va., Feb. 20. 

PHIBCB 2’s main role in the operation was to load, operate and unload Navy and Army equipment from the pier using the Roll-on Roll-off Discharge Facility (RRDF) platform, which simulated equipment coming off of a ship with RRDF capabilities. The equipment was transported over the ocean onto the beach using Improved Navy Lighterage System (INLS) craft, requiring Army and Navy equipment operators to drive craft over the beach to the marshalling point.

“This isn’t the first time we have had to practice JLOTS along with the Army, but this is the first time we had to do it in below-zero operating conditions,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate Johnnie Johnson, RRDF chief petty officer in charge. “Nobody was really looking forward to working out in that kind of cold all day, but our guys really pushed it out and made sure operations went smoothly and safely.”

“I’m really proud of my guys and I know if it came down to the real thing I could count on them 100% to get the job done no matter the odds,” said Johnson.

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Seabees assigned to PHIBCB 2, as well as Soldiers assigned to the 11th Transportation Battalion, conduct Logistics Over the Shore (LOTS) using a Roll on Roll of Discharge Facility (RRDF) platform during Exercise Blue Heron, Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va., Feb. 20.  

 

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