USS NEW ORLEANS, At Sea
- Amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans (LPD 18) hosted more than a dozen members of the Royal Cambodian Navy (RCN) Dec. 14-15, during Cambodian Marine Exercise (MAREX) 2012.
MAREX is a multi-day theater security cooperation exercise between the U.S. and Cambodian military designed to share expertise related to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief response.
The Cambodians observed a variety of shipboard exercises and evolutions, while also participating in joint maritime raiding force boarding drills with the crew and embarked Marines of New Orleans.
"Working with partner nations is one of the core competencies of the U.S. Navy," said Cmdr. Dennis Jacko, USS New Orleans commanding officer. "Building interoperability and familiarity with standard operating procedures builds enhanced security and cooperation in these country's local regions."
The crew of New Orleans showed hospitality and enthusiasm in not only showing off the capabilities of "Big Easy," but ensuring their guests and training partners felt at home.
"It was a little awkward at first, but Sailors are Sailors," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuels) 2nd Class Borith Prom, a Cambodian-American who acted as a tour guide and translator. "Once they started feeling comfortable being here, they got very excited touring all our neat stuff and observing our evolutions."
New Orleans went through several drills with two RCN ships, including flashing light drills; ship stationing; and visit, board, search and seizure drills.
"I think we learned just as much from them as they did from us," said Electronics Technician 2nd Class Patrick Wilkes, USS New Orleans Maritime Raid Force Team. "They were so fast going up and down the boarding ladders during the drills. I was very impressed."
The second day capped off the evolution with a man overboard drill and a ride in a landing craft, air cushioned (LCAC).
"Although their ships were one-twentieth the size of New Orleans, the Cambodians were very professional in their execution of formation maneuvers and visual communications," said Jacko. "I think they are very enthusiastic about future visits and continuing to build upon a firm foundation of teamwork that we established."
New Orleans deployed Nov. 14, in support of the Navy's maritime strategy and is currently conducting theater security cooperation missions in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR).
New Orleans, amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), along with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, make up the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).
The mission of the Makin Island ARG is to help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and provide humanitarian/disaster response as well as supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.
The 7th Fleet AOR includes more than 52 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian oceans, stretching from the international date line to the east coast of Africa, and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south.
More than half of the world's population lives within the 7th Fleet AOR. In addition, more than 80 percent of that population lives within 500 miles of the oceans, which means this is an inherently maritime region.