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Marines from various Marine Aviation Logistics Squadrons, load mobile facilities into the cargo area of the USS Curtiss during a loading training exercise at Naval Base San Diego March 25. The Marines performed the training March 22 through 26.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Alexandra M. Harris

Marines take on USS Curtiss one building at a time

1 Apr 2010 | Lance Cpl. Alexandra M. Harris

Marines from units all over the West Coast and from across the Pacific Ocean came together for a training experience which only occurs once or twice a year – loading the USS Curtiss with mobile facilities.

The Marines trained to familiarize themselves with the Aviation Logistics Support Ship March 22 through 26.

The Marines came from Marine Wing Communications Squadron 38, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 11, MALS-13, MALS-16, MALS-39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, and MALS-12, 1st MAW, III MEF.

“It was a load exercise which gave Marines here experience with the equipment,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Michael Perko, the avionics officer with MALS-39, from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. “It will prepare them to sail next year when the ship activates.”

The Marines used “cargo booms” to lift expeditionary working facilities over the cargo area of the ship, operating equipment which can hold up to 35 tons of weight.

“The Marines loaded facilities and configured them for power,” said Perko. “When they’re forward, the Marines work in the facilities to repair aircraft components.”

As the Marines lowered the buildings down several decks, they used cables to guide them into the proper area while Marines on the lower decks helped direct the facilities.

While some Marines loaded the facilities, others spent time driving cargo vehicles. They moved the facilities away from the ship once the Marines finished loading and unloading them. A few Marines acted as safety observers and watched everything that was happening to ensure each person’s safety.

Other Marines spent time working with communications systems aboard the ship. The ship communications systems are different than the stationary systems the Marines use on installations. They practiced communicating information with units in Hawaii. The Marines rotated through all of the jobs throughout the week.

“We have a lot of new faces,” said Sgt. Lee Shaw, a technical controller with MWCS-38, from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. “They’re getting used to the ship’s equipment and used to ship life. Our biggest accomplishment is getting the Marines familiarized with the ship.”

Once the training was complete the Marines used the last day to clean up the ship and move the facilities back to MCB Camp Pendleton.

“It was good training,” said Perko. “There were about three different movements going on all at once. The Marines worked independently and no one got hurt.”

Whether they moved equipment or drove cargo vehicles, Marines from four military installations worked together as a team to accomplish an uncommon training exercise.

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3rd Marine Aircraft Wing