June 30, 2005
By Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hampton
FORT A.P. HILL, Va. -- Soldiers from the 189th Engineer Battalion of the Virginia Army National Guard traveled from Gate City, Va. to demonstrate the speed, versatility and agility of the MK2 Bridge Erection Boat during annual training at Fort A.P. Hill.
The 189th uses the MK2 to maneuver into place and link five-ton bridge sections which unfold and flatten, once they are launched, across the water much like rafts. Once fully erected, the sections are then pushed into final position by the MK2 and secured with anchors. Once all of the sections are in place, the bridge is built and is ready for action.
The operation takes little time to complete as members of the 4th Infantry Division can attest ; it took them only five hours to construct a 586-meter bridge that spanned the Tigris River near the Iraqi city of Tikrit -- the longest floating bridge constructed in a combat zone since WWII.
Soldiers from the 28th Engineer Brigade and the 229th Engineer Battalion got hands on instruction in the crafts operation, capability and maneuverability. It was just the first in a series of training opportunities the Soldiers will receive as part of the Virginia National Guards restructuring plan. The MK2 was widely used as a patrol vessel during the Vietnam War. Since that time, it has remained an important part of the Army’s mission capable assets and serves the engineers well.
Although, the current round of training did not include actual bridging activities, Soldiers were able to gain valuable instruction which will greatly enhance bridge building training once integrated. In fact, according to Staff Sgt. Micah Terry of the 189th, becoming familiar with the MK2 is essential in building the bridge.
“The MK2 is basically an extension of the Soldier building the bridge,” he said. “Knowing how it works and what it can do makes all the difference in the world when building these floating bridges.” Under the proposed reorganization plan, an element the 189th will relocate to Bowling Green, VA where it will establish a bridging unit at the A.P. Hill Armory.