USS MAKIN ISLAND, At sea - The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), along with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), departed San Diego Sept. 29 to begin a MEU certification exercise (CERTEX) in preparation for an upcoming deployment.
Led by Commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5, the Makin Island ARG consists of the Navy's newest amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), the amphibious-transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18), and the dock-landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52).
"The success of this final stage of pre-deployment training will prove that we are now deployable worldwide in support of a wide-range of missions," said Capt. Humberto Quintanilla, PHIBRON 5 commander.
"It will take extensive Blue-Green team efforts, from all the Navy and Marine Corps ranks, to make this event a success," said Quintanilla. "I am confident that our combat skills honed during previous ARG-MEU integrated training events will deliver the levels of expertise and operational art required to master the unforeseen and blind missions that will be thrown at us during CERTEX. It's time to line up and snap the ball."
Quintanilla said the CERTEX is expected to include the evaluation of multiple evolutions, including small boat raids; visit, board, search, and seizure training; helicopter and mechanized amphibious raids; mass casualty responses; and a non-combatant evacuation operation.
"The certification exercise is a validation of ARG-MEU capabilities by observers who will evaluate both our ability to conduct missions under real time conditions and variables beyond our control. The end product will be a finely tuned combat force ready to deploy," said Col. Michael R. Hudson, 11th MEU's commanding officer.
Hudson said the outcome of the exercise will be captured in a report and presented to the commanding general of the First Marine Expeditionary Force. If the 11th MEU's performance meets the standard, it will be certified to deploy.
"This exercise solidifies best practices and is the capstone event for the MEU before we deploy," said Hudson. "The certification process ensures that the 11th MEU will have the most up-to-date training to support the commanders we will work for overseas."
The Makin Island ARG is scheduled for a routine deployment later this year.
Commissioned in 2009, 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."