Soldiers of the Louisiana National Guard’s 2225th Multi-Role Bridge Company, 205th Engineer Battalion, have been performing transport duties off the coast of Louisiana near Grand Isle, La., and the Grand Terre Islands to assist civilian workers with the oil clean-up effort along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast.
For the past two weeks, the 25-member team has been using portions of an improved ribbon bridge to make a five-panel raft with ramps on each end to transport civilian personnel, equipment and oil-containment materials to and from areas along Grand Isle and the Grand Terre Islands.
“We usually haul civilians and oil-containment items, but at any given time we can be asked to transport equipment and other heavy items,” said Sgt. 1st Class Maris M. Pichon, of the 2225th.
The civilian contractors use the raft as a means of transportation for themselves and as a way to transport equipment and oil-contaminated boom to the decontamination site in Grand Isle.
The panel raft’s ability to push onshore and lay down its ramps without the need for a dock makes it the preferred method of transportation for the contractors loading and unloading equipment. The nearly 100-foot long platform can haul upwards of 80 tons of cargo and is pulled with two bridge erection boats.
“Unlike the shrimping boats that we were using, the raft can actually dock onshore and the ramps make it easier to load and offload personnel and equipment,” said Pablo Hernandez, a contractor working in Grand Isle. “We are appreciative of the Guardsmen helping us out.”
The Soldiers can use the improved ribbon bridge in several different ways, depending on what the mission requires.
“This is what we train to do,” said 1st Sgt. Kevin M. Giroir, the 2225th’s senior enlisted advisor. “A part of our unit’s mission is to get equipment and personnel across bodies of water and we are always prepared to make it happen.”
Story by Sgt. Michael Owens