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NEWS | Feb. 28, 2017

Third Port: pivotal point for Army transportation

By By Airman 1st Class Kaylee Dubois 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Crisp air whips around at the mouth of Skiffes Creek on the James River, as a small tug boat glides along the black water, easing to a halt alongside a pier. U.S. Army Soldiers jump out of the watercraft and begin throwing ropes to each other, securing the boat to the pier at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Feb. 22, 2017.


This 40-acre pier complex, known as Third Port, houses U.S. Army vessels in a deep-water port, providing safe harbor for the watercraft fleet. Although mostly used for training personnel in vessel operations and cargo loading, Third Port is an operational pier for the U.S. Army to train in deployment readiness and recovery.


“Boats go from here to world-wide locations in support of contingency operations and humanitarian aid relief,” said Jay Dehart, 733rd Logistics Readiness Squadron harbormaster. “We are 48 nautical miles from the sea buoy. It’s like building a business or a home close to the freeway; the port provides easy access to deep water.”


The isolated area around the port offers a unique training environment for conducting tactical training. Also, with limited harbors in the surrounding area, civilian vessels are rarely seen near the training zone, lessening the impact on the daily exercises conducted off-shore.


Third Port is regularly used for training exercises during joint service training and is open to all branches of the U.S. military.


“When we go into a deployed environment there are typically other service members,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Susan Heyse, 73rd Transportation Company, 10th Battalion, 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) marine maintenance NCO. “I think it’s important that we have a level of familiarity with other services through joint training.”


Although, heavily used for training personnel, the pier also allows boats to be docked in order to make repairs and to perform routine maintenance. For example, the 633rd Security Forces Squadron, stationed at JBLE, are able to be maintained their patrol boats at Third Port, saving time and money for both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force.


With a mission-focused atmosphere, Third Port provides for not only the 7th Trans. Bde. (Ex.), but all services, global mission success capabilities through training opportunities and operational readiness.



Among the functioning watercraft sits an operational landship, equipped with a large crane and hoist frame used for training on how to handle and load cargo. The equipment and vessels provide realistic training opportunities, helping prepare service members for real-world scenarios and deployments.


“All the boat operators, maintainers and cargo operation specialist are trained here at Fort Eustis,” said Dehart. “So you have to have boats here to support this watercraft school and it just makes sense to have a port here.”


According to Dehart, the Army has plans to modernize and expand the fleet at JBLE to support the training mission, helping prepare service members for real-world operations. As the Armed Force’s technology and capabilities advance, Third Port will continue to grow to meet the ever-changing needs for mission success.