Nov. 1, 2010

Bowling Green-based bridge company fields new equipment 

By Cotton Puryear
Virginia Department of Military Affairs

BOWLING GREEN, Va. -- The Virginia National Guard’s Bowling Green-based 189th Multi-Role Bridge Company has increased the speed and weight capacity of its bridging capability with new equipment fielding conducted Oct. 18-28. Approximately 20 Soldiers from the company took part in fielding the Improved Ribbon Bridge which can be used to transport weapon systems, troops and supplies over water when permanent bridges are not available.

 

Soldiers from the Bowling Green-based 189th Multi-Role Bridge Company conduct training on the operation of the U.S. Army’s Tactical Float Ribbon Bridge System Oct. 28, 2010, at Fort A.P. Hill. The training wrapped up a two-week fielding process where approximately 20 Soldiers from the company learned how to deploy the Improved Ribbon Bridge which can be used to transport weapon systems, troops and supplies over water when permanent bridges are not available. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs)

Click HERE to see more photos from the event on the Virginia National Guard Flickr site.

The system consists of the Improved Ribbon Bridge interior and ramp bays, Propulsion Bridge Erection Boats and Common Bridge Transporters, and these components are required to transport, launch, erect and retrieve the floating bridge. The system can be configured as a fixed bridge to span a body of water or as a ferry to cross the water with the aide of the propulsion boats, explained Capt. Matt Nowak, commander of the 189th.

“The Improved Ribbon Bridge replaces the Standard Ribbon Bridge and is faster and easier to assembly and provides greater capability in terms of carry capacity and width,” Nowak said. “The improved system is able to cross faster water currents and allows for two way traffic with heavier vehicles. When fully deployed the bridge will support the M1 Abrams tanks, the largest tracked vehicle in the Army’s inventory.”

Civilian contractors were at the armory performing deprocessing operations to ensure the unit is fielded working equipment with all its parts. The contractors worked with Soldiers to unpack the bays and issue the basic issue items that go with the bays.

The contractors provided valuable initial training on the IRB, Nowak said. “The purpose of the training was to allow Soldiers to get familiarized with the new equipment,” he said. They had the Soldiers drop the bays in the water to test the operability of each bay.

“Going into this fielding I didn’t know what to expect with the 189th,” said Bob Marchese, a system acquisition manager who led the onsite bay training. “The few Soldiers on the ground really exceeded my expectations with both work ethic and knowledge.”

In addition to being used in a combat situation, the 189th’s bridging capability could be useful in an emergency situation where permanent bridges are rendered unuseable.

“This is a good asset to have for the state in case of flooding or any situation where a bridge may go out,” said 2nd Lt. Shawn Proctor, support platoon leader for the 189th. “We would be able to bring one of these float bridges out and construct a temporary bridge that could support an area until a new fixed bridge could be put in place.”

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