News: Bending the tides
Story by Sgt. Benjamin John
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – While moving in a port, ships and vessels need information from the shore telling them where to go and when to be there. This information is given to the ships and vessels by the harbormaster. Harbormasters track and monitor vessels’ movements and loads to ensure port operations are run safely and smoothly. During Alaska Shield 14, the Harbormaster Command and Control Center is in charge of providing command and control of ships approaching the Port of Anchorage to off-load material and supplies.
The group that is in charge of the HCCC during Alaska Shield 14 is the U.S. Army's 393rd Transportation Harbormaster Operations Detachment from Fort Eustis, Va. The HCCC is also supported by the 338th Harbormaster Operator Detachment stationed at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.
“We are being told by the tides what can happen and when,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Sarter with the 393rd Transportation Harbormasters Operations Detachment. He continued to explain there is a 25 to 30 foot tidal shift at the Port of Anchorage. This shift, along with a strong current, makes it dangerous to move ships about the port.
The timing is critical to the ability of the HCCC to complete the mission of the Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore in Alaska Shield 14. Alaska Shield 14 is an exercise that involves federal, state, local and military agencies, designed to test response and coordination efforts during a disaster and is modeled after the 1964 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated much of South Central Alaska, including the city of Anchorage.
“We make sure everyone is in synch,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Zacarias Rivera with the 11th Transportation Battalion with the 7th Transportation Brigade (expeditionary) also based out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis. “We have been preparing for months.”
There are multiple systems at work during JLOTS operations and all the systems are funneled through the HCCC. The primary role of HCCC is to receive information from multiple systems and translate it into simple, usable and understandable directions.
“It's a big learning experience,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Thomas Hall with the 393rd Transportation Harbormaster Operations Detachment. “It's been great to see what it is like in this cold environment.”
“It is confidence building,” added Rivera.
When a call is made for JLOTS operations anywhere in the world, the HCCC stands ready to answer. The exercises that are put together are designed to keep the skills sharp of everyone involved. The exercise concludes April 9, 2014.