Pathfinders Conduct Munitions Port Operations in Wales

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jessica Avallone
  • 501 CSW/PA

Pathfinders from RAF Welford, RAF Croughton and RAF Fairford recently coordinated with U.S. Army Soldiers from the 598th Transportation Brigade as well as our British counterparts to ensure the safe shipment and delivery of over 50 ammo containers between RAF Lakenheath and RAF Welford.

Port operations are the primary way that U.S. Air Force bases across the U.K. are resupplied with munitions. This type of movement typically occurs once a year in support of operations at RAF Welford.

“It is very satisfying to see the work and planning of dozens of different people come together to execute these operations,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Preston Smith, 420th Munitions Squadron commander. “Seeing it in person really highlights the scale of the ship and the quantity of assets being transported.”

With all operations of this type, moving large shipping containers from ship to truck requires planning, attention to detail, and strict observance of safety standards.

A key player in these movements is the 838th Transportation Battalion, 598th Transportation Brigade. The 598th is one of five active component U.S. Army Transportation Brigades assigned to Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.

“We conduct terminal operations all year,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. James Acevedo, 838th Transportation Battalion commander. “We import and export all supply commodities, including private vehicles, household goods, tanks and troops.”

Observing the coordinated movement of cargo, the precise operation of cranes, and the organized flow of trucks working in unison can be both “impressive and enlightening,” said Acevedo. “It makes me feel proud of my team and everything that we do every day. I’m honored to be in command of this awesome team.”

When assets make it to a U.K. port, all parties must follow the procedures outlined in anagreement concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods by road. Airmen from the 420th Munitions Squadron loaded outbound containers onto contracted trucks and escorted the shipment to Newport, Wales. They also escorted containers from the ship to RAF Welford where the assets were inspected and properly stored in pre-determined structures.

“The team here did a great job ensuring the safe transfer of vital munitions assets over 180 miles,” said Smith. “Successfully executing a resupply operation such as this is critical to maintaining a ready stockpile of munitions to support Air Force and USAFE objectives.”

“I appreciate the partnership and support we continue to receive from embassy personnel and the U.K. government,” said Acevedo. “We look forward to continuing to work together towards our common goals.”