BY BARBARA BURCH
OFFICE OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS
NAVSUP FLEET LOGISTICS CENTER JACKSONVILLE
Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) activated the rapid deploying enterprise logistics response team (ELRT) in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which devastated Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West on September 11, 2017.
The innovative 26-person team was comprised of hand–picked, top performing supply rating Sailors, civilians, and officers. The team was qualified and ready to hit the ground running at a moment’s notice to provide logistics support of Navy’s needs, when and where it is needed.
This particular team consisted of personnel from NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Centers (FLCs) San Diego and Puget Sound, who traveled to Jacksonville, Florida, ready to support recovery efforts at Naval Station Feature Story (NS) Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, NAS Key West, NS Mayport, and NAS Jacksonville, Florida.
The preparations began long before Irma reached the continental United States. The operations team at NAVSUP FLC Jacksonville, headed by Lt. Cmdr. Alejandra Holch, requested possible support from stateside NAVSUP FLC commanding officers not impacted by Irma, to be ready to respond to the call for an ELRT.
On Sept. 11, after initial damage assessments were received from NAS Key West, and while the storm continued to impact Jacksonville, the call was made to activate the ELRT. The team arrived at NAS Jacksonville as soon as the base was safe for operations, Sept. 14, to begin the reception, staging, onward movement, and integration process (RSOI).
“The ability to notify, execute, and coordinate the arrival and forward movement of a large supporting team within 48 hours was a personal challenge. With the support of the NAVSUP Enterprise and the incredible work done by the operations team, we were able to establish NAS Jacksonville as the RSOI,” said Holch.
Working tirelessly, NAVSUP FLC Jacksonville Assistant Operations Officer Lt. Jessica Chamberlain divided the ELRT personnel into two groups to assist with recovery efforts staged from Guantanamo Bay and at Key West. ELRT Team One would support efforts at NAS Jacksonville and on the ground at NAS Key West, while Team Two would support from NS Mayport and on the ground at NS Guantanamo Bay in support of disaster recovery efforts in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
At the initial staging, while waiting for indoctrination from the operations team, the team tied up loose ends, calling home in case of no connectivity at their next stop; realizing some would be on the front line of disaster recover with the possibility of limited food, water, and daily comforts.
The team consisted of many different faces, including a father of triplets, a young mother who had to send her child to another state with just hours’ notice to deploy, and a former pro golfer, now in the Navy, who lived in South Florida and knows the devastation a hurricane can bring. In addition, three team members from the Navy Exchange Service Command deployed with the team to assist with health and comfort distributions for the Key West rescue and recovery personnel.
The members came together as a newly formed elite team, ready to work side-by-side to give much needed relief to overworked and overwhelmed personnel on the front line of recovery.
“Thanks to those who departed their place of comfort to sprint toward the needs of others,” said NAVSUP FLC Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Matt Ott. “They put their lives on hold to respond and make a positive difference.”
Facing real-life, real-time challenges, the ELRT demonstrates NAVSUP’s power to respond – ready to ensure warehousing, hazardous materials, port visit service support, aviation supply, postal, and other lifeblood logistics operations continue as necessary when and where it matters most.