NORFOLK, Va. –
Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Norfolk, Virginia’s Pier 8 is a hotbed of activity every summer in preparation of Operation Pacer Goose, an annual resupply mission to Thule Air Base, a remote U.S. Air Force base in the Arctic region of Greenland.
This year, DLA distribution process workers spent four days in July loading the Schuyler Line Navigation Company’s Magothy cargo ship with essential supplies including COVID-19 personal protective equipment before it set sail to the air base July 23.
Operation Pacer Goose is one of the Arctic outpost's few sources of food, spare parts and other items needed each year, and summer is the only time of year the ice is thin enough to sail through. While COVID-19 supplies were previously air lifted to Greenland, five pallets of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and cleaning supplies were loaded onto the Magothy along with construction materials, electrical equipment, furniture, food and water.
The load included 98 lifts – 90 containers plus a fire truck, rock crusher, step-deck trailer and five 20-foot modular containers, said Michael Kelly. This is his first year working as a marine cargo specialist with DDNV, but he participated in Pacer Goose in 2007.
A variety of skilled workers – stevedores, blockers and bracers, and workers who load containers on chassis at the pier – are needed to load the ship, Kelly said. DDNV cargo specialists and materiel handlers loaded the Magothy with members of Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 8 from Fort Dix, New Jersey, and NCHB 1 from Williamsburg, Virginia.
“Items are single-stack loaded to protect the cargo because if something breaks, they can’t reorder something and [get it] there two weeks later. They have to wait ‘til the next year. So we are very careful about not damaging cargo,” Kelly said.
The Magothy is scheduled to return to Norfolk from Thule mid-August with items no longer needed at Thule Air Base, completing the 68th annual resupply mission.