USS Essex, Coral Sea 
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By Lt. Cmdr. Denver Applehans, Expeditionary Strike Group 7 Public Affairs

USS Essex, Coral Sea (July 13, 2009)
Expeditionary Strike Group 7, the U.S. Navy’s forward deployed amphibious force in the Western Pacific, officially began the U.S. - Australian exercise Talisman Saber off Australia’s eastern coast today.

The bilateral exercise is designed to enhance interoperability between U.S. and Australian forces and includes more than 16,000 U.S. personnel and 8,000 Australian personnel.

Rear Adm. Richard Landolt, Commander ESG 7, serves as the Commander, Amphibious Task Force and is responsible for coordinating the movements of U.S. and Australian ships to include USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Denver (LPD 9), USS Tortuga (LSD 46), USS McCambell (DDG 85), USS Mustin (DDG 89), HMAS Brunei (L127), HMCS Winnipeg (FFH 338), HMAS Melville (A 246), HMAS Kanimbla (L 51), HMAS Manoora (L 52), HMAS Tobruk (L 50), HMAS Newcastle (FFG 06) and HMAS Darwin (FFG 04).

“Talisman Saber provides an excellent opportunity exercise amphibious operations with an allied nation, on difficult terrain and under arduous conditions” said Landolt. “Also, the face-to-face coordination is invaluable toward maintaining a high level of interoperability.”

Landolt is embarked on USS Essex and synchronizes ship movements with embarked Australian Navy Capt. Stephen Woodall, Deputy Commander, Amphibious Task Force.

“The opportunity to work side-by-side with our American counterparts on a complex and challenging exercise such as this enhances our warfighting capabilities and supports interoperability at all levels,” said Woodall.

The amphibious portion of the exercise is concentrated in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area near Rockhampton in central Queensland. The focus of the exercise is crisis action planning and execution of contingency response operations.

Also embarked on the Essex, Brig. Gen. Ronald Bailey, Commander of the Landing Force, will direct the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit ashore for further training in cooperation with Australian forces.

Once the Marines are ashore, the ESG will continue to train with the Australian Navy off the coast.

ESG 7 is the US Navy’s only permanently forward deployed amphibious force and is headquartered in Okinawa, Japan, with a detachment in Sasebo, Japan.
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