The U.S. Ebola response military, under the Operation United Assistance, has begun offloading containers of Ebola fighting materials and food from a contracted vessel, the VEGA, at the port of Buchanan in Grand Bassa County.
VEGA brought in 57 twenty-foot equivalents of Force Provider Equipment, 16 forty-foot flat racks of Rough Terrain Container Handler, 68 containers of foodstuffs, three containers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and 30 twenty-foot equivalents of fuel tanks.
The vessel also brought in 455 containers of building materials for ETUs and 4 containers of mixed supplies which, when put into perspective, would take over 300 C-17 Cargo Transport aircraft to deliver the same amount of cargo aboard VEGA.
According to Lt. Col. Sydney Harris, commander for the Transportation Unit, the offloading, which began October 25, is expected to take about five days to complete, and afterward two other vessels larger than the VEGA will be arriving with more supplies.
This is the first shipment of several seaport operations providing supplies to Liberia from the U.S. to support government’s response to the Ebola crisis.
This means that there will be a larger influx of needed supplies to sustain troops and build training and treatment facilities in the effort to contain the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
Former commander of the Joint Force Operation United Assistance, Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, acknowledged earlier that the U.S. troops would work with the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) to build treatment and training centers in the entire operations.
In this regard, the Liberian Coast Guard (LCG), as part of the AFL, is providing waterside port security using skills and knowledge gained over the last five years as part of a larger U.S. Security Cooperation program mentored by the U.S. Coast Guard.
The LCG effort, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy, will feature the capabilities of their 27-foot and 33-foot safe boats provided by the United States Government.
As our reporter toured the Buchanan Port on Saturday, members of the Joint Force Command – United Assistance (839th Transportation Battalion) – were seen assisting in the offloading of cargo, using 40 trucks and 3 ship cranes.
Buchanan, according to experts’ view, is a “Light port” capable of receiving light cargo vessels and containers. This indicates that it can take vessels of 200 meters or less in length and cannot be so heavy as to have more than 30 feet of hull under the water.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and Liberian forces are constructing a Brigade Support Area (BSA) in Buchanan to include a 40,000 square meter secure container yard to house supplies, and a Life Support Area capable of sustaining approximately 1000 troops.