San Diego Fly-Away Logistics Team Surges, Supports after Hurricane Irma


NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) San Diego’s fly-away enterprise logistics response team (ELRT) returned from its surge to military installations in Florida and Cuba in support of Hurricane Irma Sept. 29.

The ELRT team was formed to surge and augment other NAVSUP FLCs in times of crisis or emergency. A total of 14 team members dispatched to installations in Mayport and Key West, Florida and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba following Irma’s wrath.

With a logistics presence in every theater, the NAVSUP Enterprise is positioned to support fleet and region commanders in accomplishing their missions when an individual NAVSUP FLC or Navy Exchange’s resources are inadequate to sustain logistics support requirements.

“Hurricane Irma wiped out a lot of services on some of the military bases,” said Lt. j.g. John Waurio, services and quality assurance officer for the command’s logistics support team. “The supply departments there were hurting for manpower, and the civil servants could not return to assist until after evacuation orders were lifted. We had to step up and make sure the show went on. That’s our purpose.”

Once on the ground, the team flexed a full array of logistics functions, utilizing information technology systems and communications links to demonstrate full functionality and connectivity where the Navy needed it. The ELRT’s arrival ensured continuity of operations in warehousing, hazardous materials, inventory management, postal, and other lifeblood logistics operations with minimal manning.

“I think we went out and performed the way we trained, and we met our mission,” said Waurio. “There are a lot of functions and processes that must continue regardless of whether or not there is an emergency situation. Our operations following Irma are now being analyzed to see what we learned and how we can improve for future deployments.”

According to Commanding Officer Capt. Michelle Morse, the ELRT stages itself for deployment within 96 hours of a disaster or emergency situation in its area of responsibility.

“The goal is for this team to move in and temporarily augment or take over for the NAVSUP FLC they’re supporting in the affected region,” said Morse. “This allows the home NAVSUP FLC to move into the field and operate, or to continue with essential operations when manpower is an issue. Logistics capabilities are crucial to any military operation, but this is especially true in an emergency scenario.”

Hurricane Irma was the first real-life situation for which the ELRT was deployed. Previously, they had participated only in training exercises aimed at demonstrating surge capability in the field.

“Over the last year, this team has worked diligently to ensure they are up to the task for any situation,” said Cmdr. Gilberto Penserga, fleet operations director. “Setting up workstations, logging into necessary websites and databases, establishing connectivity, and simulating drills helped them establish the muscle-memory required to maintain deployability at a moment’s notice.”

The ELRT is designed to support situations ranging from humanitarian assistance and disaster response to various other types of contingencies on an emergency basis. All junior enlisted Sailors, chief petty officers, and commissioned officers in a supply rating at the command are assigned at least one ELRT function. Aviation Boatswain’s Mates (fuels) are also included.

All ELRT Sailors are required to complete dozens of training and qualification requirements, including Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training, general purchase card training, and material handling equipment qualifications, along with obtaining international driver’s licenses. Additionally, the Sailors are required to maintain up-to-date pre-deployment medical, dental, and family care plans, passports, meet clearance requirements, and train and qualify on various logistics and transportation systems.

January/February 2018