Navy helps pack up Polish equipment
August 12, 2003
Polish army forces heading to Iraq are getting a lift from the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command.
Four MSC-contracted vessels loaded vehicles, aircraft and supplies for the Polish 12th Mechanized Division in Szczecin, Poland, in late July. The ships are expected to arrive in Iraq by early September.
According to the Polish Ministry of National Defense, the country will deploy a force of 2,300 soldiers along with units from 15 other countries.
The Polish portion of the stabilization force will help replace the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment around Karbala and other units will go to central and southern Iraq. A small detachment of about 250 Polish soldiers has already deployed and is working with the Marines.
The deploying Polish forces are equipped with MI-8 “Hip” transport helicopters, W-3W “Falcon attack helicopters and about 1,300 wheeled vehicles.
The division’s equipment took up more than 230,000 square feet of space and included more than 700 shipping containers. This was Poland’s largest military equipment move since World War II.
Members of the U.S. Army’s Military Traffic Management Command’s 598th Transportation Terminal Group worked with the Polish stevedores to load the ships.
Naval Reserve Capt. Pete Johansen, commander of the three-person MSC detachment in Szczecin, said that every aspect of the load went smoothly.
“As this was the Polish military’s first experience in shipping military equipment overseas they relied heavily on our expertise,” Johansen said in an MSC news release.
“This was certainly a new experience, since we have not loaded a foreign military’s equipment on this scale before,” said the Naples, Italy-based MSC Europe commander Capt. Dirk Deverill. “It took a great deal of teamwork between MSC, the Military Traffic Management Command and the Polish military to make the operation successful.”