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Cpl. Chris E. Robinson, a welder with 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), shows students defects to watch out for on an International Organization for Standardization container, during a container repair course held aboard Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq, June 22, 2009. Robinson taught the five-day course as part of the effort to get all ISO containers in Iraq to a seaworthy condition for the transportation of supplies and equipment out of Iraq. (U.S. Marine Corps photograph by Cpl. M. M. Bravo)

Photo by Cpl. M. M. Bravo

Containers in Iraq repaired for sea travel

29 Jun 2009 | Cpl. M. M. Bravo

As the Marine Corps’ mission in Iraq draws down, much of the equipment that has accumulated over the past six years must be either returned to the United States or be sent to support units operating in other locations. This has resulted in the increased need for seaworthy shipping containers that will be used to ship gear via commercial or military sealift.

Unfortunately, there are very few seaworthy containers available in Iraq to meet the rising demand, thus creating a requirement to repair slightly damaged containers and bring them back to seaworthy condition.

Taking a step forward in fixing the deficiency, the 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward) sent two Marines to the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, to learn the proper techniques and procedures to repair the damaged containers that will be essential in the responsible drawdown of Marine Corps gear in Iraq. 

After completing the training, Cpl. Chris E. Robinson, a welder with 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd MLG (Fwd), conducted a container repair course aboard Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq, June 21-26. The purpose of the course was to bring metal workers up to speed with container repair procedures, familiarize them with the characteristics of the containers and how to identify damages.

“This class is [very] essential,” said Staff Sgt. William Margerum, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of 2nd Supply Battalion’s machine and weld shop.  “It aids in the [process] of us leaving Iraq completely since we can’t move anything without the containers.”

The student body was made up of eight experienced welders, to include Marines, sailors and a civilian contractor, who came from all across Al Anbar province to attend the course.

 “Right now, there are very few people who are up to speed on container repair,” he said.  “Here on TQ, at least [900] containers need to be brought back up to seaworthy condition, and each container takes about 60 man-hours to be repaired.”

In order for containers to be considered seaworthy, they must meet strict criteria.  The containers must be watertight and be free of rust, cracks, tears and other deficiencies that can severely weaken the structure.

 “The biggest thing we have to work on is hammering out dents and [repairing] the under structure,” he continued.  “[These containers] are dropped anywhere, which causes dents and tears.  They [sit] in damp areas and get corroded so we have to fix that.”

During the course, the students, who were handpicked by their commands,  examined and repaired corrosion and other damages to the containers at Camp Al Taqaddum, alongside the 13 Marines that had been working on them prior to the course.

“The students we have here have a pretty good background in metal working,”  Margerum said.  “They’ve learned all levels of container repair, they understood everything they were taught and proved it in the practical application.”

After the five-day class, the students will head back to their units, fully prepared to set up their areas to efficiently conduct container repairs.


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