PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The Sailors and Marines of Commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 3 and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (15th MEU) returned to San Diego March 10, following a twelve day at-sea PHIBRON-MEU Integrated Training (PMINT) off the coast of Southern California.
During the nearly two-week underway period, the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), the command ship for PHIBRON 3 and the 15th MEU, operated with the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23) and the Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) for the first of a three-phase certification process to test the ARG's mission readiness.
Amphibious squadrons and MEUs complete PMINT during their pre-deployment work-up cycle, and the overall focus is to facilitate integration of the Navy and Marine Corps Blue-Green Team through staff planning exercises and an amphibious landing exercise.
Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 15, the Navy's integrated training command on the West Coast, is responsible for conducting certification training with U.S. 3rd Fleet CSGs, expeditionary strike groups (ESGs) and amphibious ready groups (ARGs).
"We [CSG 15] are here to provide training and mentorship to PHIBRON-3 and the 15th MEU in order to better prepare them for Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), certification and a successful deployment," said Lt. Cmdr. Anne Villalpando, CSG-15 Amphibious Operations Officer.
According to Essex ARG leadership, the integrated training of the nearly 5,000 Sailors and Marines of the Essex ARG and 15th MEU is an essential step towards certification.
"This was a great opportunity for the ARG-MEU team to integrate for the first time at sea to practice our amphibious tactics, techniques and procedures together before we move to the next phase in training," said PHIBRON-3 Commodore Capt. Clint Carroll. "I've been exceedingly pleased by the teamwork and professionalism across the Blue-Green Team and I look forward to exceptional performance during the remainder of the training cycle and beyond."
Col. Vance Cryer, 15th MEU commanding officer, stressed that PMINT provides the foundation to build operational capabilities.
"The amphibious force brings a host of flexible, responsive options across the spectrum of military operations in support of our interagency or joint force commanders," said Cryer. "These skills are critical as we learn both Navy and Marine Corps planning and battle rhythm processes."
The 15th MEU, comprised of Marine forces from Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (BLT 3/1), Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (VMM-161 REIN), Ground Combat Element (GCE), Air Combat Element (ACE), and Combat Logistics Battalion 15 (CLB-15), conducted multiple missions across all three platforms. These amphibious missions included ship-to-shore landings and shore-to-ship recoveries utilizing landing craft air cushion (LCAC), landing craft utility (LCU) and amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) operations as well as numerous air sorties using AV-8B Harriers and MV-22 Ospreys.
The Navy units assigned to and embarked aboard the Essex ARG-15th MEU include Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 11, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 1, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21, and Naval Beach Group (NBG) 1 comprised of Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5 and ACU-1 and Beachmaster Unit (BMU) 1.
The Essex ARG-15th MEU is scheduled to deploy later this year and will set out with a wide range of capabilities to conduct crisis response, noncombatant evacuation, aviation and amphibious operations.
U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line, and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.