By MC3 Kenneth Gardner, PHIBCB 2 Public Affairs
Seabees use a 200-ton crane to lower a spud well into place in preparation for placing piles during construction of the roadway. (Photo by Engineering Aide Constructionman Michael Depalma/160425-N-FU398-456)
As the waves crashed against the piles supporting the 880-foot Elevated Causeway System (ELCAS), Seabees completed their 23rd and final day of construction, May 10.
More than 200 active and reserve component Seabees from Amphibious Construction Battalions (PHIBCB) 1 and 2 and Construction Battalion Maintenance Units (CBMU) 202 and 303 came together with the “Can Do” spirit, conquering long workdays and adverse weather conditions to complete the annual ELCAS build.
Following the build, the Army’s 10th Transportation Battalion, Naval Beach Group (NBG) 2, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, and Beachmaster Unit (BMU) 2 joined the Seabees in conducting a mini-Joint Logistics Over the Shore (JLOTS) exercise. The three-day exercise simulated ship offloads to both the beach and the ELCAS, providing both the Army and Navy valuable experience operating with the expeditionary pier.
“The training and experience gained from this JLOTS operation utilizing the ELCAS is invaluable,” said Capt. Chris LaPlatney, commanding officer of PHIBCB 2. “It not only allows for multiple commands to come together to work on this one-of-a-kind system, but also afforded the opportunity to bolster relations and interoperability between the Army and Navy.”
Engineering Aide 2nd Class Daniel Airhart and Engineering Aide Constructionman Michael Depalma mark piles in order to measure pile depth and blow count during construction. (Photo by Engineering Aide 2nd Class Larry Winer/160420-N-FU398-381)
The ELCAS enhances offload capability by eliminating variables in the surf zone. It can be built up to a length of 3,000 feet and can be loaded onto a Military Sealift Command TAC-S ship to be deployed worldwide. The pier can be constructed with a half or full pier-head to operate with one or two cranes. During this exercise, the full pier-head was constructed for the first time in five years.
“The effective delivery of equipment and material can mean the difference between mission success and failure,” said Cmdr. Thomas McLemore, operations officer of PHIBCB 2. “Our ability to offload on the beach is significantly impacted by surf zone conditions, and the Elevated Causeway System provides a unique capability to bypass those conditions.
“Training with the Army and the other Naval Beach Group commands allows us to better understand differences in how others operate and communicate. We can learn a lot from how the other services operate, and there is tremendous value in conducting joint exercises to ensure we can effectively execute the mission when called,” he added.
The ELCAS pier-head crew uses the 200-ton crane to off load a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) from a Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM-8) as part of the mini-JLOTS. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Gardner/160513-N-VO150-529)
Concurrent with throughput operations from the pier, PHIBCB 2 active and reserve component Seabees assembled and operated a field galley, which was made up of a set of Mobile Expandable Container Configuration, a galley, and a scullery to deliver food to the troops. When fully operational, the field galley is capable of serving 700 people three full meals a day.
The operational success of the field galley was made possible by reserve component Seabees such as Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Annette Jackson, an instructional teacher assistant at Raleigh Road Elementary School in Linden, North Carolina.
“From my experience working with the Navy and the other branches, I have learned a lot about discipline, order, handling different situations, and working with people,” said Jackson. “All that experience also transfers over to the civilian world. Even though I work with students at the kindergarten level, they look at me as a role model, and they can’t understand how ‘Ms. Jackson’ can change from her role as being a Sailor to that of a teacher in the classroom.”
Whether it is a combat zone or a humanitarian relief effort, the success of these operations are heavily dependent on the effective and timely delivery of logistics to areas in need. The ELCAS system overcomes these limitations by providing a rapidly deployable expeditionary pier to bridge the surf zone, tidal ranges, natural obstructions or debris, including at locations where pier and port facilities are damaged or non-existent.
Aerial view of the completed ELCAS build. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Gardner/160510-N-VO150-170)