Operation Iraqi Freedom - MEBA
.I M ilitary Sealift Commander Vice Admiral David L. Brewer III recently told a maritime gathering that "the history of the MSC would not be possible without the U.S. Merchant Marine," and that the "history of the United States could have been very different if it were not for our civilian sailors." The MEBA ensured that Admiral Brewer wouldn't find out the alternate reality to that statement as our mariners once again helped put our fighting forces in a posirion of power during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Though the maritime industry has taken a decided downswing since the heydays following World War II, the dwindling U.S. (Above) Aboard the CAPE RACE, an RRF vessel that recently returned from its service in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Left to right is Baltimore Branch Agent Bill Van Loo, 3rd AlE Mike Cedrone, Capt. Pat Wright, 2nd Mate Mike Bird and 2nd AlE Dick Mathews. B April/May 2003 Marine Officer mariner workforce is still managing to get the job done when our country needs us most. For what essentially broke down to a three-week war, the massive resources employed and the unparalleled teamwork between labor, management and Government was nothing short of phenomenal. A protracted petiod of hostilities may well have tested both the depths of the nation's manpower pool and the ability of a faded commercial maritime power to replicate the successes of past maritime deployments. As it was, MEBA toppled every obstacle in the way and more than satisfied every government requirement en route to a sterling sealift success story. MEBA Answers America's Call Most of our armed forces were whisked into the Gulf region by air, but few Americans realize that over 85 percent of military equipment and supplies took a waterborne journey into the war zone. At last count, MEBA officers were delivering key support to our military aboard 26 civilian manned MSC auxiliary ships and special mission vessels, three commercially-operated prepositioning vessels chartered by MSC, and 10 MSC Large Medium Speed Roll-On/Roll-Off (LMSR) ships that took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom. MEBA Officers were also serving on 23 Ready Reserve Force (RRF) vessels and a continually swelling list of commercial ships chartered to carry military cargo, humanitarian and reconstruction aid as part of OIF. Already required to obtain a lengthy series of certifications and licensing in their roles as marine officers, mariners were subject to additional requirements to sail as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. MSC necessitates that mariners be certified in Chemical Biological, and Radiological Defense (CBR-D) -to help them defend against attacks utilizing weapons of mass destruction. MEB.A:.s Calhoon MEBA Engineering School in Easton, MD certifies members ip such training and School Director Joyce Matthews sent a pair of instructors (Barry Van Vechten and Rick Simonson) on the road at the request of MSC to certify boatloads of seafarers getting ready to sail into the war zone. MEB.A:.s Patrolman in Seattle Mike Jewell, who is part of the U.S. Merchant Marine Naval Reserve Program, also trained many a mariner in (At left) MEBA Officers aboard the SIS MAJ STEPHEN W. PLESS. The ship carries U.S. mili- tary cargo for the U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force. Left to right is 3rd AlE Chris Sterling, 2nd AlE Dave Trovato and 1st AlE William Paddie.