May 13, 2004
[Have an opinion
on this column? Sound Off on the Coast
Guard discussion forum!]
this page to friends
COAST GUARD IN DESERT: HAZMAT Team
Insures Safety of Containers for Equipment Going Home
Story and photos by PA1 Matthew
CPO Paul Pomroy and Lt. j.g. Dean Horton place safety caps on
compressed gas cylinders.
The hot, dusty desert of Kuwait may seem
at first a strange environment for the U.S.
Coast Guard to operate. For the five members of the Redeployment
Assistance Inspection Detachment (RAID), however, it is the ideal
location to inspect cargo containers and vehicles being shipped
back home during the largest redeployment of troops and equipment
More than 100,000 soldiers are going home after a year of duty in
as an equal number of replacements arrive. The mission of the RAID
is to ensure the containers that are packed and loaded in Iraq and
Kuwait are safe to be shipped to the U.S.
"The Coast Guard is assisting the Army
in identifying Hazardous Material (HAZMAT) problems," said Lt. j.g.
Dean Horton, 34, from Grafton, N.Y., who is normally stationed at
Marine Safety Office Hampton Roads and is the officer-in-charge of
the five-man detachment. The RAID, which is attached to the Army's
1179th Deployment Support Brigade, is based out of Camp Arifjan where
the bulk of the redeployment operation is located. Two members of
the detachment which includes Chief Warrant Officer John Simpson,
52, from Ogden, Utah; Master Chief Petty Officer Paul Pomroy, 55,
Kauai, Hawaii; Master Chief Petty Officer C. Lee Haynes, 59, from
Sneades Ferry, N.C; and Chief Petty Officer Ray Spawn, 56, from Louisville,
K.Y., operate out of Camp Doha.
Camp Arifjan is a sprawling place with hundreds of tents and thousands
of pieces of equipment that are first cleaned and then transported
to the Kuwaiti port of Ash Shuaiba where they are loaded onto ships
from the Military Sealift Command.
The months of February, March and April made
history because never before has there been such a large redeployment
of troops and their equipment in such a short period of time, said
A typical day for the RAID includes driving around to units and inspecting
their Conex boxes-- ideally as equipment is being packed. The goal
is to ensure the proper loading of HAZMAT such as acetylene, oxygen,
fire extinguishers, batteries, radioactive instruments, fuel, etc,
and that each container is properly labeled. For example, oxygen and
acetylene cannot be loaded in the same container or stacked next to
each other onboard a ship due to the risk of accidental combustion.
"It's really insuring the safety
of the mariners involved and the safety of our ports back home," said
Horton who explained how proper loading and labeling can reduce the
possibility of fires and explosions onboard a ship, and, if there
is an incident, how proper labeling and placement of placards can
help those fighting a fire to quickly identify the contents in a container.
"We are also checking to make sure the containers are blocked and
braced so that when the Military Sealift Command vessel starts taking
20-foot swells, the acetylene tanks don't break loose and turn into
missiles," Horton added.
During an average week the RAID assists 149 Army units, inspects 435
containers and 259 pieces of rolling stock such as tanks, trucks and
armored personnel carriers.
|Members of the
U.S. Coast Guard's RAID inspect a cargo container for proper
labeling of hazardous materials.
"We also educate the movement officers with the correct information
and guidance to ensure the equipment is moved as safely as possible,"
said Horton who admitted that it can be a challenge when Army units
want to pack their gear as quickly as possible and return home.
This is the second time a RAID has
deployed to the region. The first team arrived last summer and Horton's
detachment has been in Kuwait since February.
To better understand how containers were being loaded and sealed by
Army customs inspectors, Horton and members from the 1179th Deployment
Support Brigade spent two weeks in Iraq with Army units in March.
During one trip into Baghdad, Horton's
convoy was attacked with Improvised Explosive Devices and routinely
received small arms fire from Iraqi insurgents. Four members of the
convoy were wounded. For his efforts helping to secure the perimeter
Horton has been recommended by the Army command for a Bronze Star.
"It's a unique experience for the Army to work with the Coast Guard
RAID," said Lt. Col. Thomas Connell, 42, from Cranston, R.I., the
deputy commander of the 1179th Deployment Support Brigade.
|During an average
week the RAID assists 149 Army units, inspects 435 containers
and 259 pieces of rolling stock such as tanks, trucks and armored
So close is the relationship between the Coast Guard RAID and the
Army that Master Chief Petty Officer Pomroy took over as the Command
Sergeant Major for the brigade when the last Sergeant Major rotated
home May 2.
"We are looking to have more of our soldiers go through HAZMAT training
based on this experience," said Connell.
[Have an opinion on this column? Sound Off on the Coast
Guard discussion forum!]
© 2004. All opinions expressed in this
article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of