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NEWS | Oct. 30, 2017

JBLE-based brigade supports joint mission to Puerto Rico

By Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series highlighting Joint Base Langley-Eustis members’ contribution to humanitarian relief efforts.

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 597th Transportation Brigade, headquartered at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, connected with agency partners on Oct. 28 at TC Dock, located on the Joint Base Charleston Naval Weapons Station, to load supplies intended for the hurricane-battered island of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico has both air and sea ports operated by Soldiers from the 597th Trans. Bde, which are vital to hurricane recovery efforts. This shipment of supplies is primarily to aid in rebuilding the power grid across the island, as the majority of communities are still without power.

“Power is a big part of getting your life back, along with clean water,” said Alfred Murray, USNS Brittin captain. “So this is a big step to get their lives back to a normal level.”

The brigade; U.S. Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 1 from Yorktown Naval Weapon Station, Virginia; the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies loaded cargo onto Military Sealift Command’s USNS Brittin (T-AKR 305), a ship featuring cargo capacity of 215,000 square feet. Equipment loaded included commercial vehicles, stoves, cots, construction and hygiene equipment, 53-foot refrigeration units, and more than 300 generators capable of supporting hospitals, schools and larger facilities.

The 841st Trans. Battalion, on behalf of the United States Transportation Command and the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, is working with FEMA to load cargo onto the 946-foot versatile vessel. Once the ship leaves port in the coming days, NCHB-1 will maintain the equipment during a four-day voyage down to Puerto Rico, where the 832nd Trans. Bn. will receive and unload the equipment.

“We’re part of a bigger plan here and we have a lot of mission partners working together,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Chad Blacketer, 841st Trans. Bn. commander. “This is the largest Department of Defense ship that is supporting the operation right now--we’re just glad to be able to do our part to help our fellow Americans.”

Funded by FEMA, this is the first of at least six surface ship humanitarian-relief deliveries scheduled to go through Charleston to Puerto Rico.

“We’re really happy that Charleston could help out because we knew we had the capability to assist the people in Puerto Rico,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Brenton Breed, 841st Trans. Bn., 597th Trans. Bde. operations officer. “It’s nothing we can’t handle with the logistics expertise that we have; our guys are working long hours but it’s all worth it.”