U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY – The embarked Beachmaster Unit One (BMU-1) Beach Team Foxtrot await their next objective while maintaining equipment and fine-tuning mission readiness in the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5).
BMU-1 provides enabling components in support of amphibious operations, deploys naval beach party teams combined with expeditionary forces, provides beach and surf zone salvage, and assists the landing of troops and supplies to the beach. Additionally, they are responsible for establishing visual and radio communications with the primary control ship and help with the evacuation of casualties, prisoners of war and non-combatants.
“We land all the [utility landing craft] on the beach [and] control all their motions while in the surf zone, which could be anywhere from 20 to 600 feet away,” said Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Brian Myers, BMU-1’s leading petty officer. “Once there, we control all vehicle movements; everything that goes on and off of the LCUs and any movement on the beach to the high-water mark. From there, the Marine landing force support party takes over. We also have to send our guys in for any sort of salvage operation [like] when … vehicles break down.”
The Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif.-based unit consists of more than 200 personnel divided by four active and two reserve detachments.
“Our operational duties are to ensure that we maintain equipment readiness for any sort of amphibious onload or offload of Marines and cargo on the beach at any given time,” said Myers.
Quartermaster 3rd Class Kelton Gulley added, “We do a lot of maintenance, and make sure our vehicles are always up to par and mission ready at all times. Maintenance is very big in our unit.”
During this deployment, BMU-1 played a key role in Exercise Crocodilo 2012 by transporting Sailors and Marines to and from Timor-Leste.
As a small command of various ratings, BMU-1 personnel have formed a bond.
“We’re all real close … because we’re like brothers,” Myers said. “I would say it’s more like a family than a command.”
The unit also maintains and operates vehicles like lighter amphibious resupply cargo vehicles, a humvee, one medium tactical vehicle replacement and a medium bulldozer.
“We also have expeditionary watercraft, or [personal watercraft],” said Gulley. “We’ve done trials with those to help with man overboards and help salvage LCUs by driving lines out to help with towing.”
When not deployed, the command continues to focus on mission readiness with more training and preparation for real-world evolutions.
“It’s different out here than when we are back home,” said Myers. “We have some down time here. Once we’re back home, we’re constantly busy doing training exercises and sleeping on the beach.”
Commissioned July 13, 1949, the unit conducted its first action in September and October 1950 during amphibious assaults on Wonsan and Inchon, Korea. Since inception, the unit has earned various awards including two Presidential Unit Citations, two Joint Meritorious Unit Awards and six Meritorious Unit awards.
Peleliu is the flagship for the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group, and with the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.