25 July 2023

GALLERY: Americans run pipeline simulation as part of Exercise Talisman Sabre

| Matt Nicholls
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Sergeant Evelio Rosillo walks in front of two tactical vehicles full of 5.8m pipes which were laid out by hand over 5km.

Sergeant Evelio Rosillo walks in front of two tactical vehicles full of 5.8m pipes which were laid out by hand over 5km.

A MAJOR military operation was staged by American soldiers on the outskirts of Weipa on Saturday and most locals were none the wiser.

As part of Exercise Talisman Sabre, around 200 troops took part in the Joint Petroleum Over-the-Shore (JPOTS) mission, which simulated running fuel from the Port of Weipa to RAAF Base Scherger.

And while the American Army didn’t run a pipe all the way to Cape York’s air force base and used water instead of diesel, it was still considered a meaningful task.

“The purpose is to demonstrate proof-of-concept so that, if needed, the joint force could use the same system to bring fuel ashore,” said Captain Clovis Vaughn.

Cape York Weekly was invited to observe parts of the exercise, which was conducted near the Napranum foreshore.

The Americans booked the civilian barge Bandicoot to be anchored up in the Embley River, carrying more than half a million litres of fresh water to be pumped ashore.

Starting in the dark on Saturday, the only sounds in the air were of a gas-powered device that sent shockwaves through the water to deter crocodiles.

Using a tender, the troops ran a hose from the Bandicoot to the shore, which was then pulled to higher ground in a classic tug-of-war style by a dozen men.

It was then connected to a bladder to build pressure and eventually run through a series of pipes stretching almost five kilometres.

“The majority of the pipe is surface laid for expeditionary purposes. The whole pipeline was laid in two days, demonstrating the capability of how expedient the operation can be completed,” Captain Vaughn said.

“Just a few portions were buried to allow vehicles to drive over, otherwise everything was above the ground. Each piece of pipe is 19-feet (5.8 metres) and, impressively, it was all laid by hand.”

The exercise was considered completed on Saturday afternoon after the water was successfully pumped through the pipeline.

Captain Vaughn said while it was most Army personnel involved in JPOTS, they did receive some support from the US Navy, as well as the local 51st Battalion.

“Bravo Company of the 51st came out and helped provide some additional support with crocodile watch and all that,” he said.

READ MORE Army Reservist runs the show in Weipa

“There’s definitely a healthy concern – or is that appreciation – for the crocodiles. We’ve only seen a couple of them around the port.”

While the troops stayed at RAAF Base Scherger for the duration of the mission, the Weipa economy benefited from their visit.

Both hire car companies were kept busy, while local restaurants and food vendors also reaped the rewards. Carpentaria Contracting, which provided the Bandicoot, was also a major benefactor.

There is a planned community session in Napranum this Saturday, although details had not been provided to Cape York Weekly at the time of writing.

Families will be able to meet some of the soldiers involved in Exercise Talisman Sabre and get up close and personal with some of the equipment and vehicles.

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