PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) — The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) received unexpended ammunition during an ordnance transfer from the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) while underway off the coast of Southern California during a Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX), May 12.
Makin Island is currently returning home from a seven-month deployment to the Pacific, Middle East, and the Horn of Africa as America prepares for its maiden deployment later this summer.
While Makin Island was off the coast of Southern California an MH- 60S Sea Hawk assigned to the “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 transported RIM-116 rolling airframe standard missile (SM) 2’s from the Makin Island to America’s flight deck. These missiles are an upgrade to America’s original ammunition load-out earlier in the year.
“What they’re giving us is something that is going to be better for us in the 5th Fleet,” said Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Javier Keyser, ordnance control leading chief petty officer. “We want to ensure our ammo is the latest and greatest.”
America is armed with two RAM launchers that hold 21 SM 2’s. This missile system is America’s second line of defense, with an approximately 3 nautical-mile range, and is a lightweight, quick-reaction, fire-and-forget missile designed to destroy anti-ship cruise missiles and asymmetrical air and surface threats.
“Before deployment, we are going to load them up into our forward and aft RAM launchers and they will stay there while we are in harm’s way.” said Chief Fire Controlman Joseph Tsicouris, Combat Systems maintenance manager.
America is currently underway conducting COMPTUEX, but the opportunity to receive ordnance and ammunition from the Makin Island was a chance to further prepare for deployment.
“This is a highly visible ship, not only being the America, but being one of the newest ships in the fleet,” said Keyser. “This is a different type of mission. We want to make sure we are getting everything we need and that they are allowing us to go into the fight with the most advanced weapons.”
The missile cross-deck transfer is one of the final evolutions for the Makin Island’s deployment as they return to Naval Base San Diego. For America, the cross-deck means the ship is one step closer to being prepared for its upcoming maiden deployment this summer.
“It’s kind of like we’re doing a turnover for watch,” said Keyser. “Salute, go home, and now we’re going to be able to go on our deployment.”
More than 1,800 Sailors and 2,600 Marines assigned to the America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are embarked on board the ship during COMPTUEX. The America The America ARG is commanded by CPR 3 and consists of USS America (LHA 6), San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS San Diego (LPD 22), and Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and more than 1,800 Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) is designed to forge the ships of the America Amphibious Ready group into a fully-functioning combat force providing a robust set of sea-based capabilities, an extensive set of ship-to-shore connectors, and the ability to respond to crises and deter transnational threats. This enables the Navy-Marine Corps team to shape actions across the range of military operations to resolve conflict, conduct humanitarian assistance or combat the enemy in remote, austere environments that would otherwise be inaccessible.
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