News: MUSE technicians support GTMO
Story by Sgt. Spencer Rhodes
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - If you look hard enough, you’ll often see unique career fields in the military that you never even knew existed. A prime example is the Mobile Utilities Support Equipment, a group within the Navy Seabees that specialize in power plant operations. MUSE technicians are sent out in small teams to different military power stations around the globe. This past week a four-man team came to facilitate multiple support roles for Naval Station Guantanamo and Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Eric Sanders, one of four Seabee MUSE technicians from Port Hueneme, Calif., to come to GTMO, explained that various missions were required here, and all fell within the same time window allowing them to facilitate multiple operations.
Since imminent renovations are planned for U.S. Naval Hospital Guantanamo, it was important to make sure that a worst case scenario was already planned for. The hospital has its own back-up power generators already in place, but as a secondary measure, two additional generators with 7,500-gallon tanks were installed as well.
“Because Guantanamo is a high profile area and the naval hospital is prepping for its joint-effort renovation, we were sent here as a proactive effort to stay ahead of the renovations, so complete power is never an issue. It’s an important mission.” said Sanders.
This isn’t the job of your everyday mechanic or air-conditioning repairman.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony Biondo said to be sent to MUSE training, you must be selected by your command or put forth an extensive application that proves you’re already highly capable in your field. Only then are you sent to the rigorous one-year course at the Army Prime Power School at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., followed by an additional four-month Navy course on branch specific operations within MUSE.
“There are only 28 people who are in house: Sailors that aren’t permanently stationed somewhere to do a job, those travel the globe and do what we do,” said Biondo. “To put that into perspective, the Army is said to have over 600 people trained to do what MUSE techs do.”
Their mission wasn’t complete with the hospital. With multiple power substations on the island, many in support of JTF GTMO operations, annual inspections are a critical requirement and help alleviate the chances of power emergencies occurring in the future.
Checking all areas is one of the first steps taken by the specialized team so an assessment can be made for priorities and work needs.
“The first thing we do is familiarize ourselves with our mission environment,” said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Atit Gurung, “so we have a personal knowledge of the needs and mission tempo of what you’re working with, while providing critical inspections of power units and operations at the same time.”
The team’s assessments and work doesn’t take long, and after a few days they are flying back to California where they will set off for their next travel mission. With such a small number in their forces designated for constant travel, time at home is brief before they are sent elsewhere within the country or across the seas.
“We are the Navy’s 911 for critical power,” said Sanders.
The constant travels of MUSE technicians will bring them back to JTF GTMO later on in the year to place a single, newer engine to replace the two that reside here currently.