PACIFIC OCEAN - The crew of the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) along with an embarked Maritime Raid Force (MRF) from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) conducted its first joint boarding training mission during a pre-deployment exercise, Aug. 14.
The operation simulated a non-compliant boarding where MRF Marines boarded a vessel seized by pirates, confiscated weapons and arresting those suspected of piracy.
"This was the first time we've ever done it on LPD 18," said Ensign Christopher Feldmann, weapons officer aboard New Orleans and gunnery liaison officer for the training mission. "It was very successful. I didn't see any problems with command and control or the fluidity of the exercise."
In addition to having two MRF rigid-hull inflatable boats operated by Navy personnel, the exercise also included two Marine Corps AH-1Z Cobra and one UH-1Y Huey.
"The (Huey) provides surveillance the entire time over the vessel while the two cobras provided protection from any outside vessels from interfering," said Feldmann. "It's a joint mission and a show of force."
Cmdr. Dennis Jacko, commanding officer of New Orleans, said having the MRF, in addition to the ship's visit, board, search and seizure team, provides the ship with an exceptional maritime raid capability for its upcoming deployment as part of Amphibious Squadron Five (PHIBRON 5).
"They offer a great step up in our ability to conduct non-compliant and opposed boardings of suspect vessels when required," he said. "Seizing the initiative and controlling the battle space is key to those operations, and the MRF, with Marine aviation support, does that exceptionally well."
PHIBRON 5, New Orleans and embarked Marines assigned to the 11th MEU, are conducting PHIBRON-MEU Integrated Training (PMINT) as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group.