News: Container repair yard operations expand at Joint Base Balad
Story by Spc. Michael Camacho
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Operations at the newly relocated container repair yard, which is roughly four times larger, began Feb. 1 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
The CRY was relocated to an expanded location to increase the sites storage and production capabilities, said Capt. Jason Vivian, officer in charge of transportation with the 80th Ordnance Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
In May 2009, the CRY was contracted to repair no less than 120 containers per month, said Vivian, a South Fork, Pa., native. The overall production rate at the CRY steadily increased as the demand for transportation worthy containers increased, Vivian said. As the months passed, the total was gradually increased to 250 containers per month, he said.
Eventually, the greatest limitation for the CRY's production rate was the limited storage capacity, said Vivian.
With the drawdown approaching and the restructuring of forces in theater, the contract was once again increased to 3,000 containers repaired per month, he said. The increase was set in increments spread out in time so the team in the CRY could progress to their target number, he said.
"The small yard (the workers were) in, wasn't going to have the capacity to hold the amount of containers we needed (them) to bring in, fix, repair and bring back out to the empty container collection point," said Vivian. "We can easily put in over 3,000 containers at a given time."
The original CRY was on a three-acre plot, said Hashim Mahdi, the CRY managing director with Miran Village Company. The new CRY area is a 28-acre plot, which allows for much more work space, he said.
Workers operate in pairs to fix broken containers; with limited space, those groups worked in close quarters, said Mahdi, a Bakr Village, Iraq, native. At the old site, there would be up to six workers in a 100-square-meter section at one time, Mahdi said.
In their expanded space, the groups can focus on the set up and repair of more containers, increasing productivity, said Mahdi.
"With 100 square meters, each group can get at least 20 connexes a month," said Mahdi. "Before, each group could only get 10."
Site safety increased with more open space, which gave forklifts and workers more room to maneuver, said Mahdi. Risk management is a top priority with 500 personnel on site, Mahdi said.
The CRY repairs 100 containers per day, he said. The CRY repaired roughly 2,000 containers in January, moving closer and closer to its goal of 3,000 repaired containers per month, he said.
The CRY repairs containers so they can pass customs inspections and be used for the transportation of cargo back to the U.S., said Vivian.
"These containers are being repaired to meet the (International Convention for Safe Containers) certifications and are now able to go seaworthy by ship," said Vivian. "Before, we weren't able to put these containers on ships because they wouldn't meet the standards that are out there for us to ship stuff back to the states."
The average cost for a new container is roughly $4,000, said Vivian. The CRY can repair these containers for less than $1,000, saving millions of dollars in a few months, he said.
The Iraqi CRY jobs put money back into the Iraqi infrastructure, said Vivian. With the expansion of the CRY, the workforce has increased, said Vivian.
"When Mr. Hashim first started this project back in 2008, he had 20 workers," said Vivian. "Today, he has over 475 workers."
To ensure U.S. forces are ready to meet the timelines to withdraw from Iraq, steps must be taken now, including increasing the size of the CRY, said Vivian.
Vivian said the Central Receiving and Shipping Point is slated to begin operation Feb. 15, at its new location adjacent to the CRY.