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Susquehanna provides reliable deliveries to the warfighter, saves taxpayer dollars

By Carl Cluck, DLA Distribution Sigonella, Italy, at Rota, Spain

Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Sigonella, Italy's detachment in Rota, Spain, is hard at work participating in an initiative to modify helicopter intermodal operations. The helo operation, which experimentally moves the vehicles by land and sea versus air, is yielding substantial savings to the United States government in transportation costs.

Previously, deployed helicopters were flown via large military transport aircraft from within the Continental U.S. to their outside CONUS location and vice versa. However, there is a significant cost savings associated with avoiding airlift of the helos.

This new helo initiative uploads the vehicles onto a ship destined for Rota Naval Air Station, upon which they are transported from the port/pier to the airfield where they are uploaded to aircraft for the journey to their deployed location.

Conversely, when they return to CONUS from their deployed location they are flown back to Rota, where they are transported from airfield to port to arrive CONUS via ship.

It is estimated that the associated cost avoidance is roughly $10 million a year.

Each helo operation is a very coordinated event between many players such as DLA; Naval Supply Systems Command; Naval Facilities Engineering Command; European Command's transiting Army troops; Theater Aviation Sustainment Manager-Europe, 405th Army Field Support Brigade, or TASM-E; Rota port operations; military police; firemen; and contractors. Twelve DLA employees took part in this operation, lasting two days in total, last month.

The task was to transport more than 30 helicopters, comprised of Apaches, Blackhawks, and Ospreys, and approximately 380 pieces of cargo, of which about 330 were containers, from the airfield to the port for pre-staging. Distance between the locations is approximately three miles.

With the assistance of the TASM-E and its Materiel Handling Equipment, the group transported twelve helos in the first convoy. Over the course of the first morning, it took three convoys to move all the helos.

Firemen were positioned at the journey's half-way point to check the temperature of the helo wheels. The wheels of the vehicles are not designed for long distance surface travel, and as a result they needed to be carefully monitored for over-heating.

The afternoon was dedicated to the second phase of the operation: transporting the containers. This proved to be the more time-consuming task. This was constant movement, as opposed to the convoy-formatted transport required of the helos. After the first day was completed, approximately 50 containers remained. The containers were picked-up on the airfield for port delivery early the following day, officially ending DLA's involvement with the operation.

The DLA employees involved expressed a feeling of mission accomplishment and DLA organizational pride that comes with taking on an enormous task and completing it in a timely and safe manner.

"The team at Rota did a remarkable job and we are very proud to have assisted in this operation," said DLA Distribution Sigonella, Italy, commander Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Schmidt.

DLA Distribution Sigonalla, Italy, at Rota, Spain, participates in an experimental helicopter operation, which moves the vehicles by land and sea versus air.
DLA Distribution Sigonalla, Italy, at Rota, Spain, participates in an experimental helicopter operation, which moves the vehicles by land and sea versus air.

Previously, deployed helicopters were flown via large military transport aircraft from within the Continental U.S. to their outside CONUS location and vice versa. However, there is a significant cost savings associated with avoiding airlift of the helos.
Previously, deployed helicopters were flown via large military transport aircraft from within the Continental U.S. to their outside CONUS location and vice versa. However, there is a significant cost savings associated with avoiding airlift of the helos.



 
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