ARABIAN SEA- A team of naval officers represented amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) in an Iron Team Competition sponsored by the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) aboard the ship while at sea, Sep. 25.
Lt. Cmdr. Kelly Taylor, Lt. j.g. Natalie Bowen, Ensign Christine Joslin, Ensign Katherine Holton and Ensign Ashlee Houston combined to form the only Navy team, and the only female team among 19 Marine teams from the 15th MEU to compete.
“We learned things you don’t normally learn as a surface warfare officer, and it allowed us to see what our Marine brethren do all day,” said Houston, the ship’s legal officer. “It was really fun and challenging.”
The endurance event consisted of six stations designed to test the mental and physical strength of the participants.
“The variety of stations was tough and fun, but we would do it again,” said Holton, the ship’s MWR officer.
First, the five-woman team cycled through a cardiovascular and strength station, comprised of five exercises ranging from the box jumps to the military press. Secondly, team members assembled four weapons from a cluster of weapon parts. Third, the teams had to memorize 10 objects under a poncho before pulling a vehicle forward and aft across the flight deck. Fourth, the teams demonstrated Marine Corps Martial Arts Program wrestling techniques. After wrestling, the team had to list the 10 memorized objects and orientation on a piece of paper. Fifth, using Marine communication radios, teams were given coordinates to call in an air strike. Finally, the teams treated and transported a simulated wounded comrade on a stretcher while providing security for the patient and stretcher bearers.
Both Houston and Holton agreed that the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program station was the toughest event because of the level of energy they’d exhausted in the three previous stations.
Each team had one minute to transit between stations located from the ship’s flight deck down to the hangar bay.
The competition is the first of its kind held on Peleliu throughout deployment, and because of its popularity the 15th MEU is already planning another competition.
Peleliu is the flagship of Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group, which consists of amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and amphibious transport dock ship USS Dubuque (LPD 8).
The PEL ARG and MEU are executing a regularly scheduled deployment to the region in support of ongoing maritime security operations, and serve as the theater reserve force for U.S. Central Command. The team reports directly to Expeditionary Strike Group 5, which is responsible for all amphibious forces deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet, and oversees the planning and execution of contingency response missions and maritime humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations.