PHILIPPINE SEA (June 11, 2017) Marines, assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), fire M240B machine guns at a “killer tomato,” a large inflatable floating target, during a live fire exercise aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). Bonhomme Richard, flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group, is operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to serve as a forward-capability for any type of contingency. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cameron McCulloch/Released)
BHR ESG, 31st MEU Holds Shipboard Live-Fire Drill, Continue Integration on Deployment

PHILIPPINE SEA (NNS) -- Sailors aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and USS Green Bay (LPD 20) and Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked on those ships conducted a live-fire ship's self defense drill, June 11 and 12 respectively.

The exercise was meant to improve Navy and Marine Corps integration and teamwork as Sailors and Marines develop cohesiveness at the start of a routine deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

On both ships, the crew's small arms team worked side-by-side with the Marines building experience in the use of weapons at sea and effectively defending the ship with those weapons. The firearms used for this evolution included .50-caliber machine guns, .50-caliber snipers rifles and M240B machine guns. The combined teams fired on inflatable targets, also known as "killer tomatoes."

"We are all warriors and our blue-green team is up to every challenge because we deploy together, work together, train together and are ready to fight together," said Capt. George Doyon, commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11. "At the end of the day, all the Sailors and Marines in the ESG [Expeditionary Strike Group] are closely connected during deployment; we accomplish blue-green missions every day."

Training, like the ship's self defense drill, is an ongoing process aboard all the ships of the ESG and the experience it gives to the embarked Marines of the 31st MEU prepares them for a long term integration and partnership.

"Being a part of the blue-green, Navy-Marine Corps, team is an exciting opportunity," said Cpl. Zachary Tidwell, attached to the 31st MEU aboard Bonhomme Richard. "I don't know if the other branches work seamlessly together, on a regular basis, the way the Navy and Marine Corps team does. I'm proud to work alongside them and to call them shipmate."

The Bonhomme Richard ESG consists of the flagship Bonhomme Richard, USS Green Bay (LPD 20), USS Ashland (LSD 42), and with potential for cruiser-destroyer assets to integrate when needed. More than 2,300 Marines and 2,100 Sailors will operate together as part of the ESG.

The amphibious ships are on a deployment in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to enhance partnerships and be a ready-response force for any type of contingency.

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