Courtesy story, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Seabees and Sailors assigned to Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202 participated in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) loading exercise (LOADEX) at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story (JEBLC-FS) and Naval Station Norfolk, July 8-12.
DSCA LOADEX is designed to train and familiarize Sailors and Marines with rapid response capabilities following man-made and natural disasters, such as industrial accidents, hurricanes and earthquakes which affect both local civilian and military populations.
Part of the CBMU-202 mission is to provide disaster recovery support to Naval Regional Commanders in the continental United States.
“During a DSCA mission we clear routes that have been affected by natural disasters,” said Chief Equipment Operator Nate Jeppe, from Boise, Idaho, CBMU-202 Alfa Company Commander and DSCA officer in charge. “When fallen trees cover roadways, power lines come down, or the road floods, we go in there and clear it out so that the people who are affected by a disaster are able to get the aid they need.”
The CBMU-202 portion of the exercise was conducted in five phases; Mobile Operations Control Center and embark yard set up; muster and gear inspection with construction equipment and support equipment (CESE) staging; driver training and transport of CESE to Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 4; embarkation of CESE onto the Amphibious Landing Ship USS Carter Hall (LSD) 50; and debarkation and stowage of all gear.
“This DSCA training evolution has several objectives,” said Lt. Charles Shepperd, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) DSCA Exercise Officer. “To shake off the cobwebs and make sure we are still able and ready to respond in an emergency, to train on multiple platforms, and to open the lines of communication and friendship with the other commands that support DSCA evolutions.”
During the LOADEX, personnel and heavy equipment from CBMU-202 were transported from JEBLC-FS by Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) to Carter Hall at Naval Station Norfolk. Equipment loaded onto the LCACs included a high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle; front-end loader; medium tactical vehicle replacement (MTVR) cargo and dump trucks; a light service support vehicle, a TRICON, and two pallets of personnel gear.
Multipurpose amphibious ships are used to transport the Seabee’s equipment to the closest port available near the affected area. Landing helicopter dock (LHD) and amphibious transport dock (LPD) ships are most often used for DSCA operations.
“This DSCA is different because of the platforms we are using,” said Shepperd. “We would normally use an LHD and an LPD for DSCA operations. During this DSCA LOADEX we are using an LSD to load and transfer our equipment in order to train in the event that one of the other platforms is not available.”
In addition to training on new platforms, general equipment training, to include driving CESE, is an important part of the DSCA LOADEX.
“We have new people coming and going every year and we are always working to keep the same consistent level of proficiency and skill sets with our crew,” said Jeppe. “We benefit with more training and licensing for the personnel who maintain and operate the equipment for DSCA operations.”
CBMU-202 is home-ported in Virginia Beach, Virginia. They provide public works support to Naval Support Activities, forward operating bases and fleet hospital/expeditionary medical facilities during wartime or contingency operations. Seabees are the expeditionary engineering and construction experts of the naval service.