CRANE, Ind. – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) employees in the Mobile Technology and Repair Complex (MTRC) program used their unique skillset to provide Special Operations Forces (SOF) personal protective gear (PPG) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the world, demand was high for PPG. MTRC personnel made thousands of masks made for civilians at Crane and Crane Army Ammunition Activity (CAAA) as well as to military members and the SOF community in Afghanistan, Africa, and Europe. Along with these masks, MTRC personnel also created other protective and COVID-19 specific gear including test tube holders, face shields, desk shields, door openers, and isolation chambers for helicopters.
Nigel Wasil, the MTRC Program Manager at NSWC Crane, says Crane employees in the MTRC program are deployed across the world to work alongside special operators in the field providing responsive, technical solutions as they are needed.
“MTRC personnel are trained to make what they can with what they have,” says Wasil. “As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our engineers and technicians made thousands of masks from a variety of materials to fit warfighter specifications so they could go back to work. Warfighters needed an 80 percent solution right now for a face covering as opposed to waiting for a 100 percent solution months from now.”
The MTRC program provides timely and responsive means to repair, modify, and enhance current capabilities of SOF systems and sub-systems as well as design, engineer, and fabricate new equipment to increase the lethality and survivability of SOF operators worldwide.
One MTRC group in Afghanistan received recognition from the 909th Forward Surgical Team for their “exceptional flexibility and willingness to help by producing face masks” that “enhanced the team’s capability to provide quality patient care and enhanced mission accomplishment during COVID-19 containment and response operations.”
Nathan Abram, the MTRC Program Operations Manager at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, says that when COVID-19 spread, the Forward Surgical Team came to them needing masks.
“They had an immediate need for face coverings so that they could continue their mission,” says Abram. “Our team located at the operations center, as well as four other teams deployed throughout Afghanistan, provided immediate assistance by making face coverings to meet warfighter needs. With our five total teams, we made about seven hundred masks using all kinds of materials.”
Abram says MTRC teams are accustomed to responding rapidly to warfighter and mission needs.
“On any particular day, our teams may provide rapid science and tech solutions through soldering, welding, machining, sewing, modifying, or repairing equipment,” says Abram. “We do what we have to do to quickly support so they are better equipped and can fight the fight. With COVID-19, we transitioned and responded to that need. With limited resources in these harsh environments, they needed solutions now; that’s what we do and that’s why we’re here.”
Wasil says the rapid response is part of the MTRC workforce skillset.
“This isn’t new; this is something we do down range,” says Wasil. “MTRC personnel are uniquely trained to adapt and perform under harsh conditions. They know how to work with a wide range of materials and tools, and have the expertise to be able to react quickly and efficiently. This is what we do every day.”
About NSWC Crane
NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.
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