Navy Reserve Sailor Plays Critical Role in Supporting Diesel-Electric Submarine Initiative
17 March 2021
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --
On a brisk, sunny February afternoon in northern Florida, Logistics Specialist 1st Class Darrell Moore is waiting for a call. Standing among office cubicles at the Naval Supply Systems Command's Fleet Logistics Center (NAVSUP FLC) Jacksonville, Moore holds two phones — one, a personal smart phone and the other, a well-worn, standard issue flip phone. The flip phone holds his focus as, at any moment, he expects it to come alive, alerting him to the imminent return of crew members from a visiting foreign submarine.
This isn’t Moore’s first time coordinating a submarine crew caravan, in fact, it’s his seventh. Since 2013, Moore, from Tampa, Florida, has been a fixture of the international submarine exercise Navy Diesel-Electric Submarine Initiative (DESI), now in its 20th year. His job as a Reserve Sailor assigned to the NAVSUP FLC’s Jacksonville Logistics Support Center (LSC), is to act on behalf of Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic (COMSUBLANT) as the primary liaison between foreign Shore Detachment Officers (SDO) and the shore-based resources they depend on. Requirements may range from repair parts, basic supplies, contracted maintenance, fuel, provisions, and galley meals, to hotels, medical care and transportation.
DESI, established by U.S. Fleet Forces Command in 2001, brings together foreign allied forces and various U.S. Navy units for several months of training each year. The aim of the exercise is to support the diesel-electric submarine operations of South American partner nations through simulated warfare and other training processes. For decades, the initiative has helped the U.S. build capacity with South American maritime allies such as Peru, Chile and Colombia.
“My role is to be a conduit for the foreign navies to communicate, operate and execute their requirements ashore so that they can continue with their training at sea for the few months that they are here,” said Moore. “It allows me the opportunity to apply the technical aspects of my job as a logistics specialist and actually do the work that an LS would do; which is kind of hard to do when you are in a Reserve unit just training to be ready to be recalled. So, to be on the deck plates — to work every day in my job rating — it’s rewarding to me to resolve issues and act as a sort of project manager and to build cross-cultural relationships with foreign personnel.”
A rural mail carrier for the United States Postal Service in his civilian career since 1996, Moore entered the Navy Reserve in 1999 and, for eleven of those years, was attached to a cargo battalion out of Blount Island, Florida. Through years of hands on work experience and a couple of deployments, Moore credits his first assignment with building him into a well-rounded Sailor.
“That experience, even though it was basically boatswain’s mate work and I was a logistics specialist,” Moore said with a laugh, “gave me the experience of working hands-on and learning the job. I had a chief boatswain’s mate there who used to say, ‘An LS is nothin’ but a boatswain’s mate with a pen.’ I learned to get the job done and move on. In 2013, I started with DESI and have participated almost every year since.”
Each day brings something new for the veteran LS. On this afternoon, Moore is scheduled to assist with pier access for foreign crew members who have been shopping for provisions out in town.
As Moore continues to await the call, he updates his logistics support officer, Lt. Matthew McGuire, who is seated in another cubicle, flanked by a large Royal Australian Ensign hanging on the wall. McGuire, a Royal Australian Navy Foreign Exchange Officer from Adelaide, has spent the last two years in his current position — responsible for the team’s military and civilian logisticians who routinely provide support to ships at Naval Station Mayport, a short drive from the office in Jacksonville.
McGuire serves as the LSC’s resource contact point for Moore’s DESI related tasks.
The LSC has established the necessary contacts within Mayport, Florida,” McGuire said. “We assist LS1 Moore by facilitating access to those resources. He also uses our knowledge of local processes and requirements. Along with this, he can access all of the infrastructure that LSC or even FLC Jacksonville has at our disposal allowing him to meet any and all mission requirements.””
Building and maintaining relationships is a major component of the team’s success; which is illustrated when Moore’s phone finally rings — It’s the Peruvian navy, but not the call he has been expecting. He is invited to a small lunchtime gathering in the Peruvian wardroom, hosted for the U.S. Navy helicopter squadron they have just completed training with. COVID-19 has curtailed much of the socialization they had been able to enjoy in years past. This socially distanced exchange of smiles and traditional Peruvian food is a rare opportunity offered to Moore in a gesture of hospitality.
After brief remarks from each unit’s commanding officer, the Peruvian submarine commander walks directly to Moore and offers a friendly fist bump and an obvious smile under his mask. The two men have worked together in years past and the sight of a familiar face is clearly a welcome one. Moore is also readily greeted by the unit’s shore detachment officer, Lt. Cmdr. La Rosa, who was the voice on the other end of the phone, invited him to the gathering.
Just then, Moore finally gets the call he’s been anticipating. He agrees to come back later to enjoy the buffet style lunch and pick up La Rosa for his next engagement. This juggling of tasks, timing and responsibilities requires a calm and organized mind — something Moore readily exhibits.
Finally, the other submarine’s crew members arrive back at the LSC — later than projected — with two rental vans full of produce and dry goods. Pier access is highly controlled and only approved and inspected vehicles are able to drive pier side for deliveries to the ships and boats. For this reason, and without hesitation, Moore assists the team in transferring provisions from the vans to the government vehicle.
It is at this point that Moore pulls out his second phone in order to activate a voice translation application. Most of the foreign Navy visitors are quite fluent in English, but Moore has been able to quickly communicate with Spanish speaking crewmembers when he needs to, thanks to digital translation tools.
They agree on a course of action for loading and unloading, but Moore’s schedule is tight. McGuire and other Reserve members from the LSC pitch in to get the job done quickly. Another Reserve Sailor drives the government van as Moore follows in another vehicle to the pier. After unloading, he quickly gets back to La Rosa to escort him and local guests back to the pier for a tour of the Peruvian submarine, BAP Pisagua (SS 33).
While Moore is gone and the van returns for a second load, McGuire and the Reservists have a few moments to meet and speak with a young Peruvian officer standing duty on the pier. Their three distinctly different uniforms set against the Mayport waterfront display a vivid reminder of the international and cooperative nature of DESI and their shared Naval service.
At the end of the day, after the last tasks are marked off of Moore’s to-do list, he thinks back on the journey to the end of another busy day on orders supporting the DESI program
“My first deployment in 2013, supporting the Brazilian Navy, was probably my most exciting because I was learning how to do my job,” Moore said. “There was a little trial and error, but I had the support of the LSC team at Mayport to assist me with a few things. Overall, I was able to get everything done that was required or requested, and that felt like a success. When no one is complaining, you know you’ve done your job.”
The friendships he’s built over the year stand out as one of his favorite parts of the program. “When they have good exercises and everyone comes back feeling good — they feel comfortable talking with you,” he said. “I just enjoy meeting with the visiting Sailors and building friendships — some that continue from year to year.”
Nearing the end of his career, Moore is currently awaiting approval to extend his service. With retirement getting closer, this year may be his last supporting the submariners who travel from South America to participate in DESI, but his contributions will be felt for years to come. For the Navy Reserve Sailors who will follow him, Moore has been gradually building and updating a turnover binder filled with local contacts and insights gained to ease the learning curve a bit.
When asked what he will say to his future relief, Moore stops and considers the question for a long moment before answering.
“Be humble, be respectful, follow Navy traditions, and communicate up and down the chain,” Moore said. “You can never know everything, so if you aren’t sure about something, go find out. Also, use any down-time to shadow and learn from the active duty Sailors at the LSC. They mentored me and worked with me to earn my Master LSR (Logistics Support Representative) certification, and taught me a lot about what it means to be an LS.”
Moore offers one last bit of advice to all Navy Reserve Sailors, “Find some way to serve in an active duty capacity — there is nothing like learning on the job and working in your rate day in and day out. My work with DESI is one chapter of my time in service that I am really proud of and will never forget.”