Jacksonville port conducts two-week US Army deployment operation
By ANNA SAVO-MATTHEWS | The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville | Published: June 29, 2020
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — The Jacksonville Port Authority completed a two-week "Elite" cargo move of U.S. military equipment Sunday at Blount Island Marine Terminal.
Over a thousand pieces of equipment arrived at Blount Island from Fort Campbell, Ky., to be sent to Europe for use in a training mission. As an Elite move, the operation was one of the largest and most important equipment moves of the year, JaxPort officials said.
Conducted by the Jacksonville Detachment at Blount Island, the operation saw the U.S.-flagged vehicle carrier ARC Endurance loaded with roughly 1,450 pieces of equipment, including AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters and various wheeled vehicles and support equipment.
JaxPort has access to 40 daily trains and three major interstate highways, making it "one of the nation's most diversified ports, and our ability to support the military is an important part of our diversification strategy," CEO Eric Green said.
Jacksonville is one of 17 U.S. Strategic Seaports that are on-call to move military cargo for national defense, humanitarian aid and disaster relief. It is the only port in Florida to have this distinction.
In March of last year, JaxPort was called on to move helicopters, vehicles and other cargo for the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division. The equipment was sent to Kentucky following the 101st Airborne Division's deployment overseas.
Again in September 2019, the port facilitated the largest operation at JaxPort since Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, loading over 2,000 battle tanks and artillery onto vessels bound for Europe, officials said.
"Support from JaxPort, as well as our trucking and rail partners here in Jacksonville, has been phenomenal," said Lt. Col. Thomas Patterson III from the 832nd Transportation Battalion. "In large moves like this one, efficiency is key to ensuring the best use of taxpayer dollars. Jacksonville offers the strategic value, expertise and flexibility to seamlessly get it all done."
In a recent ruling by a federal judge, the Army Corps was allowed to continue an 11-mile dredging project of the St. Johns to the Blount Island Marine Terminal, a six-year project intended to deepen the river to 47 feet to meet the needs of larger cargo ships.
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