PERSIAN GULF –
Climbing down a steep ship’s ladder 60 feet into a hot, humid, and dark environment to inspect a fuel tank’s lining for blistering and chipping is all part of the job.
Defense Logistics Agency Energy Middle East Quality Assurance Representatives Mark Mizrahi and Army Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Grace received hands on training conducting an internal tank inspection of the oil tanker LEFKARA in the Persian Gulf on April 9.
“Tank inspections are one of the more physically demanding parts of the job as a quality assurance representative, especially in the environment we’re in,” Mizrahi said.
Overseeing the training was DLA Energy QAR Kelley Warren who has over 17 years’ experience in fuels.
Previously, she had been a petroleum laboratory specialist in the Army.
“The entrance for the tank is small but opens up after you get down the first ladder,” Warren said. “The tanks were 18 meters deep or 59 feet.”
Find training opportunities for QARs has been challenging.
“There has been little opportunity to conduct internal tank inspections due to COVID-19 restrictions,” Warren said. In February, the two QARs received virtual training to enable them to complete the required confined space training.
Grace and Warren are two of DLA Energy’s four females QARs in the field.
“I think being a military QAR has been an eye-opening experience, but more than that being a female QAR has given me the opportunity to show other females that we can do anything when given the opportunity,” Grace said.
To get to the ship for the inspection, the QARs had to take the motor launch from the government-owned Bahrain Petroleum Company dock to the ship moored at an outer anchorage, which is about a 15–20-minute ride.
“On the oil tanker, the QARs were able to physically observe and touch what our reference material refers to as flaking, peeling, or blistering,” Warren said. “While not all the tanks on this vessel had these deficiencies, it was important for the training to find examples of them.”
Louis Sampract is the Quality Manager at DLA Energy Middle East at Naval Support Activity Bahrain. He supervises 11 quality assurance representatives and ensures the critical quality support and oversight of bulk fuel procurement, storage depots and distribution contracts throughout the Middle East area of operations.
DLA Energy QARs will inspect a ship’s tank depends on mission requirements and average an inspection every two or three months he said.
“The LEFKARA vessel inspection is a great example of why we do these inspections,” Sampract said. “Several of the tanks could have caused a quality issue with the product we intend on receiving and distributing to the warfighter.”
The LEFKARA was the second internal tank inspection for Mizrahi and Grace and qualified them to perform tank inspections on their own.
“I’ve been a part of several internal inspections up to this point,” Mizrahi said. “Each vessel tank inspection can present unique issues and challenges which creates an equally unique training opportunity.”
The importance of the QAR mission cannot be understated. As a result of the ship’s inspection, the stowage plan had to be revised.
“A couple of the offered tanks were not acceptable for use due to large areas of blisters and chipping of the epoxy lining,” Sampract said. “Being able to physically see these types of deficiencies in person provided a great learning opportunity for QARs Mizrahi and Grace.”