KOPER, Slovenia -- Military Sealift Command (MSC) Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Yuma (T-EPF 8) arrived in Koper, Slovenia, May 7. This is the second port visit by an expeditionary fast transport in Koper, the first was from USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7) in Jan. 2020.
Yuma is in Koper to refuel, resupply and offload U.S. Army Africa cargo, consisting of vehicles and equipment, from exercise African Lion 20. The cargo will be offloaded by local Slovenian stevedores, which were coordinated through the U.S. Army Surface Deployment and Distribution Command’s (SDDC) 839th Transportation Battalion located at Camp Darby, Italy, and will be screened for COVID-19 prior to work being completed.
“Yuma has been underway for two weeks for the protection of the crew and stevedores,” said Capt. David Gommo, Master of USNS Yuma. “Even though we will not be leaving the ship, we are looking forward to the offload in Koper.”
In an effort to limit movement and protect the health and safety of the host-country and crew in a COVID-19 environment, MSC ships worldwide have suspended all shore liberty and leave for all civilian mariners. Mariners will not leave the vessel, except to conduct ship-related activities on the pier. Additionally, ships are on self-quarantine between ports, staying out to sea for 14 days between port calls.
Yuma is redeploying the cargo to its point-of-origin from exercise African Lion 20, a large-scale U.S.-led multinational exercise in Africa. This is the second consecutive year that MSC’s expeditionary fast transport ships have supported the exercise.
“The movement of U.S. Army Africa and the 173rd Brigade Combat Team’s cargo from African Lion 20 in support of the Moroccan military through Koper integrated Military Sealift Command and our State Department colleagues and required tremendous flexibility,” said Mr. Bob Setaro, Director, Italy Detachment, 839th Transportation Battalion. “This demonstrates the kind of international teamwork it takes to perform complex port operations like these.”
Geographically separated from its area of responsibility, the Northern Italy-based U.S. Army Africa Headquarters faces unique logistical challenges for an Army Service Component Command that is required to maintain the ability to rapidly move between Europe and the African theater of Operations.
"Slovenia's willingness to support the redeployment of African Lion 20 cargo through Koper Port provides a clear example of the strength of this alliance and stakeholder interest in advancing these partnerships and supporting strategic objectives,” said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jeremy Addleman of the U.S. Army Africa G4 Mobility Operations Division. "This capability is simply not possible without the flexibility and responsiveness of resources like the USNS Yuma, coupled with strong multinational partnerships in the region.”
To control the risk of exposure on MSC ships, all personnel accessing the ship are screened for COVID-19 using a screening questionnaire. Personnel who are identified as being at risk for infection are not permitted on board. Every effort is made to preserve a virus-free environment by practicing social distancing, wearing appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE), washing hands and following the technical guidance for the cleaning and sanitization of shipboard spaces, machinery and cargo.
MSC operates approximately 125 naval auxiliary civilian-crewed ships, which replenish U.S. Navy ships, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners around the world.