SAN DIEGO – Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) Three, Rear Adm. Frank Ponds toured Naval Beach Group (NBG) One and component commands on Thursday, Sept. 26.
Sailors from Amphibious Construction Battalion(ACB) One, Assault Craft Unit(ACU) One , and Beach Master Unit (BMU) One demonstrated ship to shore movement with Improved Navy Lighterage System (INLS), Landing Craft Utility (LCU), and Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo (LARC).
The Seabees of ACB 1 demonstrated causeway ferry operations as a part of the INLS. "A causeway ferry is used to transport marine cargo, conex boxes and other supplies from a ship to the shore", said Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class (SW/SCW) Craig Richmond, the leading petty officer of water craft operations at ACB 1. "[It] provides critical supplies to a ground force so that they can complete their mission", said Richmond.
INLS, combined with the Roll On/Roll Off Discharge Facility, and Amphibious Bulk Liquid Transfer System enable NBG1 to support large-scale maritime prepositioning force operations with Marine Corps personnel. The Seabees are able to build, staff, and support up to a 1200 man tent camp in support of Navy-Marine Corps amphibious operations and humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HA/DR)- missions.
Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class (SW/AW) Brandon Schildtknecht was the LARC commander for Thursday’s demonstration. “I took time to explain the way the propeller and how wash over rudders maneuvered the LARC, particularly how everything is hydraulically manipulated as oppose to previous mechanical versions” said Schildtkneckt.
The LARC is only one piece of the overall BMU 1 mission set. The beachmasters control the movement of troops, equipment, vehicles and supplies via both conventional craft and Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCACs) though the surf zone and across the beach. They are able to debark casualties, enemy prisoners of war, and non-combatant personnel. Additionally, beachmasters conduct surf zone and beach salvage operations with organic and augmented personnel and equipment and are often called up to support HA/DR missions.
LCU 1681 operated Thursday under the direction of craft master Chief Quarter Master (SW/AW) Mike Plewa. “[The LCU] demonstrated the off load of vehicles at the sand ramp,” said Plewa, “the sand ramp has similar conditions to other areas where we operate worldwide.”
The almost 300 Sailors of ACU 1 are constantly training to support the Marine Corps and naval assets in ship-to-shore movement. LCUs are only a part of the capability of ACU 1 which also operates 16 maritime prepositioned force utility boat crews.
During Ponds’ first address to his Sailors at NBG 1, he emphasized each Sailor’s importance to accomplishing the mission. He expressed his thoughts on the future, speaking to individual Sailors. He cited their specializations highlighting, “It is not a matter of if but when… somebody here will have the opportunity to do that mission.”
He concluded his visit by encouraging the Sailors stating, “What you do, what you are doing, what you are about to do… no one can do it better.”