USS Shiloh (CG 67) transits the Gulf of Thailand during exercise Cobra Gold 2010   
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Amphibious Squadron 11 Works with Thai Counterparts at Sea

Story Number: NNS100206-13 By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Smith, USS Essex (LHD 2) Public Affairs

USS ESSEX, At Sea (NNS) -- Amphibious Squadron Eleven (PHIBRON 11), embarked on the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) for spring patrol 2010, welcomed aboard four officers of the Royal Thai armed forces Jan. 22 to observe amphibious operations at sea.

The Thai navy and marine officers stayed aboard for a week while Essex steamed from Okinawa, Japan, to Thailand to participate in the annual, multinational exercise Cobra Gold 2010 (CG10).

During their stay, they visited various parts of the ship and saw Essex's amphibious capabilities up close.

"We learned a lot seeing the U.S. side of operations and the careful planning that goes into the operation," said Cmdr. Thepphagron Intorn, of the Royal Thai navy.

Intorn said he is excited about the opportunity to work with the range of forces involved in the multinational exercise.

"This exercise is very extensive and involves not only American and Thai forces, but also Indonesia and Korea," said Lt. Cmdr. Prasertsip Worasit, of the Royal Thai marines. "It's good for us to work together and learn from each other. Every year we learn more and improve our operations."

The Thai officers also observed air and well-deck operations at sea as a prelude to Cobra Gold 2010, which is designed to test the participating forces' abilities to conduct joint multinational operations.

"They learned how we conduct maneuvers and plan ship-to-shore operations," said Lt. Jason Ward, PHIBRON 11's future plans officer. "We learned a lot about how the Thai Navy conducts its own operations."

During their stay, the Thai officers also interacted with U.S. Sailors and Marines of various pay grades.

"I had the chance to work with the Thai officers and show them how we do our charts and conversions," said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Jason Roe. "I got to see how they do things compared to us. It was a unique experience."

For some of the Thai officers, the visit was their first time aboard a U.S. Navy ship.

"The Essex is much larger than our amphibious ships," said Intorn. "It has so many people, it's different from what we are used to. We learned a lot about how Americans operate. For instance, our amphibious ships use small boats to move our marines ashore, so it was interesting to see American landing craft that can also move vehicles."

Thailand has been an ally of the United States for more than 176 years. U.S. Forces work with allies throughout the Pacific to increase interoperability for future readiness. Cobra Gold 2010 is an annual exercise co-sponsored by U.S. and Thai armed forces. Japan, Singapore, Republic of Korea and Indonesia will also take part in the exercise. This year marks the 29th iteration of Cobra Gold.

Essex is part of the forward-deployed Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and is conducting spring patrol. The Essex ARG is commanded by Capt. Donald Schmieley of PHIBRON 11, and includes amphibious assault ship Essex, amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver (LPD 9), dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67).

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