27 August 2010

Navy Elevated Causeway System - Modular (ELCAS-M)


Last January I talked about the Navy Logistics Over-the-Shore (NLOTS) mission we were executing in Haiti. I was very impressed with how quickly our Sailors were able to get the Navy lighterage system in place and fully operational to deliver much needed supplies to the Haitian people. You can read what I wrote about LOTS in Haiti here and here, and see a Power Point overview of our LOTS mission here.

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Beach Group 2 and Expeditionary Support Logistics Group to observe our Seabees from Amphibious Construction Battalions 1 & 2 constructing a 500-foot Elevated Causeway System – Modular (ELCAS-M). The ELCAS-M is one of our core systems used to support our Navy LOTS mission. There is a video of the visit here.

The ELCAS-M is essentially a mobile pier system that can be shipped to any location in the world and assembled within days of arriving. A fully functional ELCAS-M is equipped with full-size cranes that offload equipment from vessels (such as the Navy lighterage system) onto vehicles that move the cargo ashore. It can be used to support a wide range of operations – from wartime missions where large quantities of equipment need to be moved ashore to humanitarian missions where an entire port has been destroyed by a natural disaster.

The ELCAS-M may not be widely-known, but it provides our forces with a unique capability that is unmatched by any other nation. And it is a critical part of our LOTS mission and our Sea Basing strategy. The ability of our Sailors to deliver and assemble a massive portable, improvised pier thousands of miles away from their homeport emphasizes my belief that Sea Basing is not a future concept that we should be planning for; rather, it is here and it is now – it is something our Sailors have been doing for many years. And no one does it better than our Sailors. This capability truly is a key element of what makes our Navy an effective, global force.

Altogether, the exercise at Little Creek involved over 200 Sailors, alternating 12-hour shifts for a total of 60,000 man-hours and 13 days to complete the 750-foot causeway. I believe exercises like this are critically important because they give our Sailors an understanding of their job that can only be gained through a hands-on practical experience. And most importantly they provide lessons learned that we can evaluate to improve future performance.

I was very impressed by our Seabees from Amphibious Construction Battalions 1 & 2 and what I saw them do building the ELCAS-M, ready to deliver the goods in just 9 days.
All the best, JCHjr

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