The Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT) is participating in a large-scale military operation this week at the port's Blount Island Marine Terminal. The move is being conducted by soldiers from the Blount Island-based 832nd Transportation Battalion; in coordination with the 597th Transportation Brigade from Fort Eustis, Virginia; and the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas.
Over the span of three days, stevedores with port partner Portus are loading 2,500 battle tanks and artillery pieces, as well as an assortment of other tracked and wheeled support vehicles, onto three vessels bound for Europe. 150 trucks and 640 rail cars are also being utilized to get the equipment from Texas to Jacksonville.
The mission, which is the largest of its kind at JAXPORT since Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, is in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a regularly scheduled nine-month-long event in Europe. The purpose of the operation is to build readiness, increase interoperability and enhance the bonds between ally and partner militaries with multinational training events in Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.
"Conducting such a major operation involves a lot of moving parts, but it all comes together here in Jacksonville," said Lt. Col. Tom Patterson, Battalion Commander, 832nd Transportation Battalion. "Practice missions like this one are essential to our national readiness, ensuring we are always prepared to react quickly during a time of crisis."
"Facilitating the efficient deployment of mission-essential equipment is a key part of JAXPORT's role as one of the nation's strategic seaports," said JAXPORT Chief Executive Officer Eric Green. "The continued progress of the Jacksonville harbor deepening project, along with our other major growth initiatives, ensures JAXPORT stands ready to serve in the interest of national security today and well into the future."
"JAXPORT offers a number of logistical advantages for large-scale moves like this one," said Chief Operating Officer Fred Wong. "Our fast access to interstates and rail, combined with strong partnerships with the military and our transportation service providers, ensures cargo moves seamlessly through our facilities."
The federal project to deepen the Jacksonville shipping channel to 47 ft. will provide deepwater berthing access for military and commercial use. The project is ahead of schedule, with anticipated completion in 2023, based on continued funding from all partners. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) recently awarded JAXPORT an additional $35.3 million in funding for the project.
JAXPORT is one of 17 U.S. Strategic Seaports on-call to move military cargo for national defense, foreign humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and the only port in Florida with this designation.