ATO Keeps Relief Workers, Supplies Flying


Story Number: NNS050126-03Release Date: 1/26/2005 7:12:00 AM
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By Journalist 3rd Class Michael Hart, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs

ABOARD ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Off the coast of Sumatra (NNS) -- Since the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group (ALCSG) arrived off the coast of Indonesia Jan. 1 in support of Operation Unified Assistance, Lincoln's Air Transportation Office (ATO) has logged many hours ensuring that Sailors and supplies are getting to Banda Aceh, Sumatra, as well as other points on the compass.

ATO is the organizational hub for much of what is leaving from and arriving aboard the ship. They keep constant close tabs on the C-2 Greyhound Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) flights that are being used to ferry personnel, cargo, supplies and mail across the region, from Thailand to Singapore to Indonesia to the Lincoln flight deck.

"We deal with all the passengers coming and going on all aircraft, along with incoming mail and cargo," said Storekeeper 2nd Class Heidi Atkins, from San Diego. "We make sure there's 100 percent accountability coming and going, as well as tracking which aircraft each person or piece of cargo goes on."

According to Storekeeper 2nd Class (SW/AW) Michael Poole, ATO leading petty officer, their role goes beyond just the organizational aspect.

"I make sure that all the passengers are accounted for and get to the helicopter or COD," said Poole. "We also help around the clock in the onloading and offloading of all aircraft."

Coordinating extra flights, accommodating additional passengers and loading relief supplies are a challenge for the ATO.

"Operation Unified Assistance has increased our job easily by ten-fold, if not more," said Chief Torpedoman's Mate (SW/AW) Michael Holt, ATO's leading chief petty officer. "Every visitor has to report to our office. We get their names, and then every morning before anyone leaves for Banda Aceh, people come check out with us. We put them on a roster, and then we fly them out on a helicopter or COD.

"After their day is done in Banda Aceh," continued Holt, "they check back in with us because we have to maintain 100 percent accuracy of who has reported back from the beach."

Even though ATO's workload has increased since Abe started its humanitarian relief efforts, Holt mentioned teamwork has brought them together.

"I couldn't ask for a better team to work with," said Holt. "I think for such a small division that we have, the amount of work and amount of production that comes out of this office is very impressive."

The ALCSG consists of the cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) and destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65), both homeported in San Diego. Other ships include Everett, Wash.-based destroyer USS Shoup (DDG 86), and Bremerton, Wash.-based fast combat support ship USNS Rainier (T-AOE 7).

Abraham Lincoln is the flagship for the strike group commander, Rear Adm. Doug Crowder, commander, Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group. Abraham Lincoln is also home to Commander, Destroyer Squadron 9, commanded by Capt. Jon W. Kaufman, and Commander, Carrier Air Wing 2, commanded by Capt. Lawrence D. Burt.

Capt. Kendall L. Card, of Fort Stockton, Texas, commands Abraham Lincoln at the center of the strike group.

For related news on Navy tsunami relief operations, visit the Focus on Tsunami Relief Operations page at www.navy.mil/local/tsunami.

For related news, visit the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn72.

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RELATED PHOTOS
A C-2A Greyhound prepares to launch off the flight deck aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).
050120-N-4336M-028 Indian Ocean (Jan. 20, 2005) - A C-2A Greyhound, assigned to the "Providers" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron Three Zero (VRC-30), prepares to launch off the flight deck aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing Two (CVW-2) and Sailors from the Abraham Lincoln are supporting Operation Unified Assistance, the humanitarian operation effort in the wake of the Tsunami that struck South East Asia. The Abraham Carrier Strike group is currently operating in the Indian Ocean off the waters of Indonesia and Thailand. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Cristina R. Morrison (RELEASED)
January 21, 2005
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