Coast Guard Container Inspection Team deploys to JBER, Alaska

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Hamilton Cleverdon, from the Coast Guard Sector Anchorage, Alaska, facilities department, helps Chief Petty Officer Bob Diaz and Senior Chief Petty Officer Dave Schacher from the Coast Guard Container Inspection Training Assistance Team prepare batteries for shipping at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson March 4, 2014. CITAT's purpose is to advise on safe methods for shipping hazardous materials. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Hamilton Cleverdon, from the Coast Guard Sector Anchorage, Alaska, facilities department, helps Chief Petty Officer Bob Diaz and Senior Chief Petty Officer Dave Schacher from the Coast Guard Container Inspection Training Assistance Team prepare batteries for shipping at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson March 4, 2014. CITAT’s purpose is to advise on safe methods for shipping hazardous materials. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert.

To view video of this operation, please click here. 

Large steel containers line an ice-covered lot as camouflage-clad soldiers carry heavy equipment and crates to and from a nearby warehouse. Nearby, an unexpected sight, a man in a blue uniform directs the soldiers to arrange their haul into orderly piles for inspection. The U.S. Coast Guard Container Inspection Training Assistance Team has come to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, near Anchorage, Alaska.

The transport of tools and supplies is vital to any military operation but, when those supplies include hazardous materials, it is just as vital to ensure they are transported safely. That’s where CITAT comes in. Chief Warrant Officer Bruce Jones and his fellow inspectors, Senior Chief Petty Officer Dave Schacher and Chief Petty Officer Bob Diaz, arrived on JBER at the request of Army 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, to lend their expertise to soldiers preparing a shipment of gear to Fort Polk, Louisiana.

Readying useful but hazardous materials for transport is an important task among the many missions the Coast Guard performs. Preparing the containers is a days-long process with many steps, all equally necessary to ensure lives and property are protected from accidental harm. CITAT members first meet with the hazardous materials certifier and conduct serviceability exams to make sure there is no interior or exterior damage to the containers.

“We’re looking for any serviceability issues,” said Schacher. “Basically we’re looking to make sure there are no holes in the containers.”

After that, the materials and equipment to be shipped are laid out, cataloged, examined and properly packed for transport.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Skeen, from the Sector Anchorage, Alaska, prevention department, labels gas cylinders for transport to Fort Polk, La., at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Feb. 28, 2014. Skeen and members of the Coast Guard Container Inspection Training Assistance Team assisted the 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion by ensuring their hazardous materials were made safe for shipping. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Skeen, from the Sector Anchorage, Alaska, prevention department, labels gas cylinders for transport to Fort Polk, La., at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Feb. 28, 2014. Skeen and members of the Coast Guard Container Inspection Training Assistance Team assisted the 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion by ensuring their hazardous materials were made safe for shipping. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert.

With the initial inspections completed, the job is only half done. A stack of documents must still be filled out and filed, placards identifying the enclosed materials must be displayed and the containers must be repacked in accordance with proper accident prevention measures. Only once all this has been completed can the containers receive tags indicating their contents are safe for transport.

While CITAT personnel have many years of experience and specialized knowledge in dealing with hazardous materials cargo, it’s important to remember that their job isn’t to take the reins of the shipment operation.   

“Our primary function is to offer advice and consultation about transporting these materials,” said Jones. “We work with our fellow military service partners to come up with the best methods to ship hazardous materials safely and to train the members who will be handling them.”

 

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Hamilton Cleverdon, from the Coast Guard Sector Anchorage, Alaska, facilities department, inspects generators for signs of fuel along with soldiers from the Army 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson March 4, 2014. Cleverdon assisted the Coast Guard Container Inspection Training Assistance Team with helping the soldiers prepare a shipment of equipment containing hazardous materials. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Hamilton Cleverdon, from the Coast Guard Sector Anchorage, Alaska, facilities department, inspects generators for signs of fuel along with soldiers from the Army 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson March 4, 2014. Cleverdon assisted the Coast Guard Container Inspection Training Assistance Team with helping the soldiers prepare a shipment of equipment containing hazardous materials. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert.

Over the course of their two-week deployment to JBER, the CITAT members and the soldiers they trained inspected and prepared hundreds of fuel tanks, fire extinguishers, generators and other potentially hazardous or explosive items for transport. It’s a duty that serves an essential role in keeping U.S. military and civilian personnel both safe and ready to fulfill their missions.

“The Coast Guard’s presence at these DOD installations, to me, is vital. This isn’t a job these soldiers normally do. Their job is to be down range taking care of business,” Jones said. “If we weren’t here to do this, these containers would be held up at the port of Anchorage and these containers do them no good if they’re stuck at a port while the soldiers are down range or in the field.”

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