At Sea - Ships assigned to the USS Makin Island (LHD 8) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) served as the key platform for counter-piracy training conducted Oct. 1 by the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit during a certification exercise (CERTEX) off the coast of Southern California.
Led by Commander, Amphibious Squadron Five (PHIBRON 5), the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) were the launching platforms for air and surface assets that allowed a Marine maritime raid force to re-take a simulated pirated vessel.
"The safety and economic interests of the United States and our allies and partner nations depend on unimpeded trade across the world's oceans," said Capt. Humberto Quintanilla, PHIBRON 5 commander. "This Navy/Marine Corps exercise demonstrates our ability to execute anti-piracy tactics while conducting broader scope maritime security operations."
Quintanilla said that effective maritime security requires a comprehensive international effort that promotes global economic stability through the protection of vital ocean commerce. Hostile or illegal acts on the high seas must collectively be stopped.
"Our Navy and Marine Corps team plays a critical role in facilitating international maritime security cooperation," said Quintanilla. "Global maritime security can only be achieved through the unity of international and regional maritime integration, awareness, and response initiatives."
During the exercise, two AH-1Z Viper helicopters and two UH-1Y Venom helicopters were launched from USS Makin Island. CH-46E helicopters and a small boat were launched from New Orleans as part of the raid.
Once on board the cargo vessel ATLS, Marines searched the ship, apprehended actors playing the role of pirates, seized automatic weapons and returned control of the vessel to the ship's crew.
"This is the type of joint mission that improves interoperability and provides the MEU with an exceptional maritime raid capability," said Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan Compton, the maritime raid force's first sergeant. "The Marines decisive and thorough actions enabled them to complete their task and conduct a successful mission."
The Makin Island ARG is scheduled for a routine deployment later this year.
Commissioned in 2009, USS Makin Island is the Navy's newest amphibious assault ship capable of utilizing surface and air assets to move Marine forces ashore. The ship is named in honor of the daring World War II raid carried out by Marine Raider Companies A and B, Second Raider Battalion, on Japanese held Makin Island Aug. 17-18, 1942. LHD 8 is the second ship to bear the name USS Makin Island.