DLA delivers produce to Egyptian port, expands support in Red Sea

By Michael Tuttle DLA Troop Support Europe & Africa

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The Navy’s Combined Task Force 53 sought more delivery options to support vessels operating in the Red Sea. When CTF-53 told the Defense Logistics Agency about the need, they specifically wanted to use the commercial port in Safaga, 515 kilometers southeast of Cairo, Egypt.

At the time of the task force’s request, however, DLA didn’t have a local source in Egypt from which to procure food for delivery to Safaga. So the team at DLA Troop Support Europe & Africa went to work to find one.

CTF-53 provides logistical support to the U.S. 5th Fleet and coalition forces in the Red Sea, delivering passengers, mail, cargo, ammunition and fuel via land, air and sea. And DLA has supported CTF-53 with food to replenish those forces, but food was primarily delivered from the Subsistence prime vendor in Bahrain.

One of the first efforts to procure goods for delivery to Safaga was for fresh fruit and vegetables, said Air Force Capt. Matthew Thorne, contracting officer at DLA Troop Support Europe & Africa. Thorne started from scratch by trying to make contact with every produce vendor in Egypt he could find.

After the contracting process was completed, an agreement was set with a vendor in Cairo. Working out of Kaiserslautern, Germany and one hour behind Cairo, Thorne said he was easily able to coordinate the vendor’s first delivery to CTF-53 logisticians at the port.

That first delivery was made Feb. 20 and included crates full of lettuce, watermelon, tomatoes, bananas, pineapples, broccoli and murcott oranges.

“The delivery is more than a truck of fresh fruit and vegetables,” said Army Lt. Col. Sherdrick Rankin, DLA Troop Support Europe & Africa commander. “This effort brings a new capability to the Navy in the (U.S. Central Command) area of operations and expands support in the strategic waters of the Red Sea.”

It was a team effort, Thorne said. The Customer Facing team at DLA Troop Support Europe & Africa first gathered CTF-53’s request for delivery in Safaga. And Thorne’s contracting team coordinated the blanket purchase agreement with the Subsistence supply chain at DLA Troop Support in Philadelphia.

“This is a great example of what we can make happen when we work as a team,” Thorne said. “And it will take the whole team to make sure this and other partnerships in Egypt remain efficient and effective for the warfighter.”

DLA Troop Support Europe & Africa is also working to partner with dairy and bakery vendors in Egypt to support CTF-53 with deliveries to Safaga.