Friday, May 29, 2009

Logistic soldiers ship out equipment from Iraq

The operation to remove all UK vehicles and equipment from Iraq continues, with this week seeing a massive haul being shipped out of Kuwait to be returned home.

The civilian roll-on/roll-off cargo ship MV (Motor Vessel) Eddystone left Shuaiba Port on Monday, 25 May 2009, carrying everything from quad bikes to armoured vehicles and helicopters. The ship is bound for Marchwood military port in Southampton.

As the responsibility of the Joint Force Logistics Component (JFLOGC), transporting all kit destined for re-use by the Armed Forces is in full swing as UK combat operations in Iraq have come to an end.

JFLOGC is a deployable headquarters, currently stationed in Kuwait. It is responsible for co-ordinating the efforts of around 1,300 personnel working in Iraq and Kuwait to recover six-years-worth of accumulated equipment and send it home in good order.

Soldiers from the Royal Logistic Corps' 17 Port and Maritime Regiment, based at Marchwood, have been in Kuwait for nearly a month loading a series of massive cargo vessels permanently leased by the Ministry of Defence, one of which is MV Eddystone.

Major Darren Osborne, from the JFLOGC, said:

"By the time the equipment gets to us it's already been inspected and repaired where possible. This has been a well thought out operation, seven months in the planning, and it's far in advance of any other operation I've been in.

"Everything's going back in better order than it would, with minor faults identified and repaired if possible, and can go through the refurbishment process if needed."

A new database has been created to determine exactly where up to 20,000 different types of stores will be distributed around depots in the UK and Germany and in what state it should leave Iraq.

Inspections are identifying faults which can be repaired before kit leaves Kuwait, saving time and making it available sooner to troops. A record of all documentation, including inspection records for every piece of kit, will also be kept as a full audit trail.

MV Eddystone will be arriving in the UK in June 2009 where its cargo, including Mastiff armoured personnel carriers and four Lynx helicopters, will be unloaded by the same soldiers who loaded it on.

The ship's master, Captain Paul Hamlin, said:

"The process has gone remarkably well, particularly the quality of work and support from the loading troops who have done a very good job."

The ship's crew is all-British and are sponsored naval reservists, which means they can be required to serve in war zones.

This is the seventh visit so far of a roll-on/roll-off vessel during the UK withdrawal from Iraq and several more visits are expected before the end of June.

The British Army has finished combat operations in Iraq and the military are currently bringing their personnel, kit and equipment home although some personnel, notably from the Navy, may be staying on to train their Iraqi counterparts.

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