USS Essex Completes Spring Patrol
SASEBO, Japan – The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) returned to its homeport of Sasebo, Japan March 29 after completing its annual spring patrol.
During the patrol, the ship made three port visits and completed two multinational exercises with the Republic of the Philippines and the Kingdom of Thailand. The exercises were designed to improve interoperability between the U.S. Navy and its allies in the Pacific region.
The ship completed exercise Cobra Gold 2010 (CG 10) Feb. 1-11, operating in the Gulf of Thailand and surrounding waters. Throughout the exercise, Essex Sailors and embarked Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) worked alongside their counterparts from Thailand, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Singapore and Japan.
During CG 10, Essex participated in a multinational, simulated amphibious assault, featuring combined U.S., Thai, and Korean forces, including more than 30 landing craft and hundreds of Marines from all three countries.
“Our Sailors performed magnificently,” said Capt. Troy Hart, Essex’s commanding officer. “The exercise was very complex and challenging, and it required a lot of flexibility and professionalism from everyone, but we overcame some challenges and met every mission requirement. Team Essex had a great exercise that we can be proud of.”
Following the exercise, the ship made a four-day port visit to Laem Chabang, Thailand. During the visit, more than 50 Essex Sailors and Marines volunteered to help refurbish the Wat Sakeaw School in Sumnakthon, Thailand. Projects included facility repairs and lunch with the students and staff.
“From the time we got there until the time we left, we were busy working and playing with the kids,” said Lt. Jason Rochester, Essex staff chaplain. “I think doing things like this says that we care about the people of our host nation. We’re not just coming here to have a good time on liberty, but we also want to invest in the people that we’ve come to see and share some things with them.”
After the port visit, the ship proceeded to a second port call in Singapore for three days. While
there, 80 Sailors participated in a sports day at U.S. Navy Region Center Singapore (NRCS) and the Singapore American School (SAS).
Essex joined Sailors assigned to the dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and the amphibious transport dock USS Denver (LPD 9) in soccer, baseball and basketball games against each other, as well as local Singaporean teams.
"Even though it had been a while since we played a game, we pulled together and gave it everything we had. In the end, it paid off," said Yeoman 2nd Class Kyle Parker, who scored the game-winning goal. "Soccer is a passion for me. To be able to share that with both shipmates and our host nationals makes it that much better."
Following the Singapore visit, Essex proceeded to the Republic of the Philippines to participate in exercise Balikatan 2010. During the exercise, Essex Sailors again worked with the 31st MEU to conduct humanitarian and civic assistance events, including multiple medical, dental, veterinary and engineering projects ashore. Marines also worked with their Filipino counterparts to conduct field-training exercises and various cross-training events.
“It has always been a pleasure and privilege working alongside the friendly and accommodating U.S. Sailors and Marines,” said Philippine Navy Capt. Virme P. Torralba. “They are very professional and willing to share their knowledge and expertise.”
Departing the Philippines, Essex offloaded the 31st MEU at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan March 25. The ship and its crew then returned to Sasebo to begin preparations for its upcoming INSURV inspection in June.