Big trucks bring big boxes, big bucks saved

By Ken MacNevin DLA Dispostion Services

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Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina's, DLA Disposition Services site became a Santa facilitator this year, ensuring that some big boxes made it to Marines in Virginia.

But these boxes won’t fit under a Christmas tree, unless the tree is around 100 feet tall.

Oh, by the way, the boxes are worth $4 million.

The big boxes held a flight simulator for the Marine Corps’ venerable CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters. The Corps' final flight of CH-46 aircraft took place amid fanfare at Cherry Point in September. No more CH-46s meant no more need for a CH-46 simulator, which rendered the shelters excess.

Meantime, not far away in Norfolk, Virginia, were the Marines of the Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 764 squadron who needed a shelter for their flight simulators at Norfolk Naval Station’s airfield. The squadron is a Marine Corps Reserve outfit now flying tilt-rotor MV-22B Ospreys.

Hmm? Can we connect what Cherry Point has and Norfolk needs?

The boxes are really parts of a single building, according to Gerry Strickland of DLA Disposition Services Cherry Point. He sort of became the DLA Elf In Charge for this holiday package delivery. He said that what you see when the pieces are loaded onto trucks is really only a quarter of the structure.

“The building structure is two stories tall and consists of two halves bolted together,” wrote Strickland. “It also includes environmental equipment and controls to preserve the electronics associated with the simulator. When the building was disassembled, the halves were separated and the top section on each half lowered over the bottom section.”

That makes for two transportable boxes, he wrote, way too much of a load for an 8-reindeer power sleigh, and the cost of same day air (much less rooftop delivery) was out of the question. But they could be moved on two trucks specially designed to move heavy, big, wide and tall cargo. A third rig would be needed to move the shelter's environmental and electrical systems.

With loads higher and wider than allowed and a trek through North Carolina and Virginia (different rules for oversized cargo), there was paperwork to be taken care of.

No surprise that a lot of coordination was needed to get all those moving and removable parts and pieces where they needed to be for each step of the process.

Contractors who ran the Cherry Point system broke down and removed the simulator. As part of their contract they did the building break down, too.

The broken down structures and support equipment were received in place by DLA Disposition Services and Strickland then worked with the turn-in unit, plus the Cherry Point transportation office, plus the requesting unit in Virginia to make things happen.

Oops. The Norfolk unit didn’t have an active account to get property through reutilization.

Taken care of. Account created. Requisition for two big buildings submitted.

All those transport rules and trip plans? Coordination done.

Strickland said it would take a seven vehicle convoy to do the job. There would have to be a pair of escorts in front of the three semis and another pair brought up the rear.

A giant crane was on hand thanks to work by a Navy Reserve command in Texas.

So, trucks loaded? Check. Convoy organized and loaded and ready to roll Dec. 14.

Christmas gift delivered? Check. Big boxes plus a third truck’s load of support gear arrived Naval Station Norfolk Dec. 16.

Some assembly required? You bet.

TBD: who gets to hide the boxes until the 24th, and who assembles them.

In the meantime, “Yes, Virginia Marines – there is a Santa Claus.”