Crowley helps fight Ebola with logistical support for Operation United Assistance

(MONROVIA, Liberia) — For the past six months, Crowley Maritime Corp. has provided critical logistics services in support of Operation United Assistance (OUA), the U.S. military’s mission to fight the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa. Specifically, Crowley has supplied emergency shipping, warehousing, trucking, stevedoring, Customs brokerage and other logistics capabilities, first to the U.S. government’s Defense Logistics Agency and now to the U.S. Army in both Liberia and Senegal, Africa. Crowley’s efforts have ultimately supported the more than 3,000 deployed U.S. troops and made possible the construction of 17 fully stocked, remote Ebola treatment centers.

The mission began in September, when Crowley’s Bleu Hilburn, director, logistics, received notice that logistics support in West Africa was needed. Within a week, the company had personnel on site and provided to DLA the innovative solution to charter the containership Vega, a fast and safe transportation option that provided the cargo carrying capacity of 17 C17 Globemaster military transport aircrafts in a single run from Germany to the staging area of Dakar, Senegal, and final destination in Buchanan, Liberia; established eight warehouses for the distribution of humanitarian aid and construction supplies; and trucked more than 4,000 loads of cargo to often-remote construction sites in Liberia. Crowley’s work in both Liberia and Senegal continues for the U.S. Army, even as the mission winds down.

“Crowley’s ability to respond to a requirement of that magnitude with very little time is a testament to the company’s global reach and commitment to deliver,” said Hilburn. “This success is due to our unique combination of technical maritime skills that are overlaid with global logistics capabilities. There really isn’t another company that could offer this kind of support  as quickly and safely as we did. The project was tailor made for us — and it was the right thing to do.”

The successful Crowley effort was lead in-country by Hilburn, with additional support provided by Wally Gonzalez, manager, logistics, and Chris Goss, manager, Africa logistics. Crowley took extreme efforts to protect its on-site employees with personal protective gear, satellite tracking devices, health monitoring and more, in addition to establishing a stateside Crowley pandemic team. Hilburn also credited the mission’s success to the hiring of more than 500 local employees, who openly adopted the company’s safety culture when working.

“The comprehensive response we are providing to the U.S. government in support of Operation United Assistance is not only critical but is, most importantly, saving lives,” said Crowley’s Frank Larkin, senior vice president and general manager, logistics. “Similar to our response efforts following Hurricane Sandy in 2013 and the Haiti earthquake in 2010, we leveraged our companywide talents, personnel and assets to deliver a top-notch suite of response capabilities that have greatly benefited this stricken area. The entire operation was executed safely and quickly, and is helping to restore the health and wellbeing of the communities most impacted by this deadly virus. We are pleased to have been able to participate in a mission with such a noble purpose.”

Last year’s Ebola outbreak in West Africa raised concerns of a global pandemic, with fear that the virus could make its way to Europe, Asia and the United States quickly. In response, the U.S. government dedicated $6.2 billion and thousands of troops to provide command and control over the outbreak, logistics training and engineering support for the construction of specially designed medical facilities in the areas hardest hit.

By Professional Mariner Staff