GULF OF THAILAND - The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived off the coast of Shinoukville, Cambodia, Feb. 26 to participate in the Cambodia Maritime Exercise 2011 (MAREX 11).
MAREX 11 is a theater security cooperation visit designed to enhance interoperability and improve capabilities of the U.S. Armed Forces and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF).
"The U. S. Navy is always honored to have the opportunity to visit the Kingdom of Cambodia," said Capt. Bradley Lee, commodore, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11. "Visits such as this help to further strengthen the relationship between our two governments."
The port visit is intended to provide crew members of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) with a chance to serve as goodwill ambassadors for the U.S., promoting peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
During the visit, the ARG will embark 60 RCAF personnel to introduce them to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief procedures and Essex shipboard operations.
"Essex will conduct shipboard operations, such as damage control, navigation and engineering operations with the Royal Cambodian Navy," said Lt. Justin Jomoto, PHIBRON 11 plans and policy officer. "By teaching and showing their navy what we do, we give them a perspective of how another navy operates."
Beach Master Unit 1 and Assault Craft Unit 1 will conduct a beach survey to ensure the beach is suitable for landing craft to storm the beach.
ARG Sailors will conduct two community service projects, one at the Goodwill School and the other at Villiage d'enfant de Shinoukville, a local orphanage, where Sailors will be able to interact with and read to the kids.
Both countries look to enhance their combined military efforts across a wide variety of humanitarian roles.
"Cambodia has also demonstrated a willingness to cooperate closely on counterterrorism, peacekeeping, disaster response, and medical and health related activities," said Lee.
The 31st MEU medical team will work with Cambodian medical personnel to provide primary care services, dental care, optometry and ophthalmology at the Al-Mujarharine Islamic Center in Kampong Som. They will treat numerous medical conditions, such as hypertension, skin infections, dental problems, vision problems and asthma.
Marines will also conduct jungle warfare training, aviation demonstrations and visit, board, search and seizure training while in Cambodia.
Toward the end of the exercise, Sailors and Marines will participate in a sports day with local Cambodian citizens, where they will compete in a variety of sports, including soccer and volleyball.
The Essex ARG reports to Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Richard Landolt, who is headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.