GULF OF THAILAND – Commander, Amphibious Squadron ELEVEN, Capt. Cathal O’Connor hosted six Royal Thai Navy (RTN) officers aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), as part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group’s completion of exercise Cobra Gold 2013 (CG 13), Feb. 22.
O’Connor said it was good to have the chance to speak with his RTN counterparts after such a successful exercise.
"We have an extremely good relationship with the RTN," said O’Connor. "This visit gave us the chance to discuss the successes we achieved during CG 13 and future opportunities that will come with the stronger partnership we have built throughout this year’s exercise. We have enhanced our ability to work with our ally nations to continue to promote peace and stability in the region."
Although the visit was short, the guests took advantage of their time on board to ask and answer questions, and discuss lessons learned.
RTN Lt. Cmdr. Rakpan Weerapat talked about how impressed he was with the ability of both the U.S. and Royal Thai Navies to work together as a cohesive element during the training events of CG 13 and what that means to regional exercises and operations in the future.
“From flight operations and the emergency evacuation drill to the simulated amphibious beach assault, our navies successfully completed each evolution safely and efficiently,” said Weerapat. “Both nations learned a lot about each other’s techniques and strengths. I look forward to next year’s exercise and the addition of more advanced training scenarios.”
O’Connor and the RTN guests spoke about numerous topics relating to next year’s Cobra Gold.
“We discussed the benefits of launch and recovery training of U.S. and Thai helicopters and landing craft from all of the U.S. and Thai ships in the combined strike group,” said O’Connor. “This will increase interoperability at the deck plate level, promote familiarity at the planner level and provide strategic flexibility across a full range of mission sets. We will also integrate the MV-22 Osprey into the amphibious assault, the non-combatant evacuation and the combined arms live fire exercise portions of Cobra Gold 14, as well as integrating Thai and U.S. EOD [explosive ordnance disposal] training,” he added. “It was a very positive, productive meeting and I look forward to seeing what new events we can participate in next year.”
After their brief visit and some refreshments, O’Connor thanked his guests and presented the group a PHIBRON ELEVEN plaque before they departed the ship.
“Thank you for coming today, it was a pleasure having you on board,” said O’Connor. “Your professionalism and operational expertise made this a very rewarding experience for all involved."