News: Supply sailors take to the seas
Story by Cpl. Paul Peterson
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - It was their first chance to put their sea legs to use and take part in their own naval heritage within the confines of a ship.
Sailors with Medical Logistics Company, 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group broke away from their day-to-day operations here and joined the crew of the USS Mahan to learn how to perform supply operations aboard a naval vessel.
Seamen Geraldo M. Guzman and Thomas W. Brooks, logistics specialists with the company, volunteered as the second group to undertake the challenge from Oct. 14 to 28.
“The ship is sort of our domain,” said Brooks, 22, a Newark, Del., native. “It is where our knowledge base should come from, but we’re in a different assignment here.”
The two sailors reported to Camp Lejeune straight out of training, and the Mahan was their first opportunity to feel the waves beneath a Navy ship. It was also their first chance to work directly with the Navy’s supply system.
“Working with the Marines, there is a completely different system in process,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Lewis A. Wilson, the destroyer’s command master chief. “They got to see how we receive [materials] while we are in port. They also got to experience us refueling while we were out at sea.”
The Mahan’s crew taught the MLG sailors how to use the Relational Supply, or RSupply, system, which allows Navy logistics specialists to order, receive and manage resources and financial records.
They also experienced the challenges faced by ship personnel as they helped distribute supplies from the shore into the belly of the destroyer.
“Even moving supplies up and down the ladder wells was a lot more labor intensive,” noted Guzman, 25, of Buffalo, N.Y. “On a ship, you have tight spaces where you have to have bodies, basically in a line, moving boxes from one place to another.”
Guzman also said the working hours aboard the ship were difficult. They woke as early as 5 a.m. and sometimes pushed through until 9 p.m.
Even though it was their first time aboard the ship, the two MLG sailors proved to be an asset to the destroyer’s crew.
“I wish we had them longer,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Stephen Wilson, the leading chief petty officer for the supply department aboard the Mahan. “I think they were excited, very motivated and thirsty to learn. They jumped into it, and you would have thought they were crewmembers for a while.”
He felt two weeks was a short period of time to impart all the information the sailors needed, but the experience was something they deserved to have.
“Putting their hands on the system, actually dealing with customers and having to research some things helps them retain much more,” said Senior Chief Wilson. “I think it is a very good service and a justice we did by getting the sailors out here.”
In addition to learning the supply system, the sailors got a taste of life on a ship, too. They ate, slept and worked in the same place every day. Their particular living area was designed to hold more than 75 people, who all shared the same facilities for hygiene and daily activities, noted Master Chief Wilson.
“There is no space,” said Brooks. “If you are lying in your rack, the distance between your thumb and pinky is how far you have before you bump your head.”
The two servicemembers returned to Camp Lejeune as the Mahan prepared to weather Hurricane Sandy.
“I have a greater respect for all those guys on the ship,” added Guzman. “It definitely lived up to my expectations as far as being on a ship and traveling.”
Two more sailors from the company are scheduled to join the crew for another round of training at the end of November.