Spotlight On: DDNV support to 2018 Pacer Goose Sustainment

By Diana Dawa DLA Distribution Public Affairs

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Pacer Goose Sustainment is the Air Force's annual re-supply mission for Thule Air Base in Greenland. This mission is the only time during the year where Thule Air Base can get their bulk items such as heavy machinery and most of their food and construction materials.

In December of each year, DLA Distribution Norfolk, Virginia, begin unofficial talks. The following March they begin the initial planning. Using Air Force and government contractor shipping orders, additional information, and historical data, they’re able to order the shipping containers. With that same information, a cargo offering is created – a report that details the amount of cargo destined for Thule that year.

All of that information is then forwarded to the Military Sealift Command so they may make an informed decision on what type of ship to charter for the mission.
DDNV supports this mission by providing stevedores, crane operators, riggers, block and bracers, and a Marine Cargo Specialist. The team takes care of properly receiving, processing, staging, loading, and stowing all cargo aboard the ship.

Air Force 2nd Lt. Jonathan Symons is the 2018 Pacer Goose Sustainment lead. “Pacer Goose Sustainment provides critical supplies to Thule Air Base, Greenland once a year. The DLA Distribution Norfolk team has a unique skillset that we don’t have in the U.S. Air Force. Without the constant outstanding support we receive from the DLA Distribution-Norfolk team, the 21st Space Wing would not be able to sustain our critical mission in such an austere, remote location,” said Symons.

Pacer Goose Sustainment is an annual mission and is conducted any time after the last week in June, until the second week in August. However, the time-frame for loading and discharge can vary greatly depending on the demand in any given year.

This year, the onload operations took place July 9-13 with the ship departing July 14.  The offload operations happened Aug. 9-10 with the ship departing Aug.11.

In a mission like Pacer Goose, timing is everything. Everything needs to be on schedule, any slight change to the timetable can jeopardize the mission as a whole.

The team at DLA Norfolk, Virginia, specifically code O2, is solely responsible for each and every piece of cargo that goes to Thule AB.

“We send the ship this time of year to Thule because the ice at the port there is at its weakest and we can get an icebreaker to assist in clearing the path for the cargo ship. Once we finish loading the ship in Norfolk, the ship keeps a tight schedule to meet the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker. Once they rendezvous, the icebreaker leads them into Baffin Bay and into the port for discharge and retro onload,” said Marine Cargo Specialist Isai J. Vazquez.

According to Vazquez, DDNV partners with the Military Sealift Command, Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Navy, for this mission – together they make this mission a success.

U.S. Navy Capt. Andrew M. Matthews, commander, DDNV, is extremely proud of his team’s annual support to the mission.

“Our success is a direct result of our strong partnerships with the Air Force, MSC and NCHB-1.  The unique skillsets of our crane operations and stevedore teams coupled with our Pier 8 facilities, allow for safe and efficient execution of this important mission, and are a readiness enabler for supported operations in Thule," said Matthews.

Vazquez finds the Pacer Goose Sustainment mission very rewarding.

“Here at DLA Distribution Norfolk we always say, Warfighter First! Many employees have been in uniform and understand that we provide a lifeline to the troops. In my time at DLA no other mission makes that motto truer than Pacer Goose. Knowing that we provide a lifeline to our troops in such a remote part of the world is an amazing feeling.  More than rewarding, it is an honor to be a part of this team.”