Military News

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

DeCA expects several more months before Pacific comissaries return to normal

by Kevin L. Robinson
DeCA Public Affairs

3/4/2015 - FORT LEE, Va.  -- The Defense Commissary Agency says it will take a few months to stabilize product deliveries to its stores in the Pacific as shipments from West Coast ports return to normal schedules.

DeCA's announcement comes after a tentative agreement was reached Feb. 20 between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union on a five-year contract covering workers at all 29 West Coast ports.

Even with the agreement, which still must be ratified by both groups, recent news coverage suggests that the current backlog of containers at West Coast ports could take as much as three to four months to clear. In the meantime, it will also take some time for DeCA to stabilize stock levels at its stores in Korea, mainland Japan, Okinawa, Guam and Hawaii, said DeCA Director and CEO Joseph H. Jeu.

"We are relieved to learn that the principal parties involved with operating the West Coast ports have reached an agreement," Jeu said. "We expect it will take several months for our supply chain to our Pacific stores to return to normal.

"Until then, we will continue our airlifts of critical products," he added. "However, these airlifts will gradually decrease and eventually end as deliveries from West Coast ports return to their normal schedules."

Commissaries in DeCA's Pacific Area became noticeably affected by West Coast port delays in December stemming from contract negotiations between the maritime association and the longshoreman union that began in July.

To help fix the problem, DeCA ramped up reorders and looked at more local source options. In mid-January, DeCA began using U.S. Transportation Command airlift contracts to transport essential fortified milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and other dairy items, lunchmeats, and produce to the Pacific.

As the West Coast port situation returns to normal, DeCA officials advise commissary patrons to contact their local store management about a product's availability status if they don't see a product they want on the shelf.

"We will continue to monitor and manage closely our supply situation in the Pacific," Jeu said. "And, as always, our mission is to ensure our military and their families in the Pacific have access to a full commissary benefit."

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