Okinawa, Japan -- The amphibious transport dock ship, USS Green Bay (LPD 20) arrived in Okinawa, Japan Aug. 27.
The ship is visiting Okinawa to offload personnel and equipment from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
The offload began with aircraft and personnel from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 265 (Reinforced) departing the flight deck. The offload continues as Green Bay’s deck department mans the well deck to deploy landing craft utility (LCUs) and landing craft air cushion (LCACs), assigned to Navy Beach Unit (NBU) 7, loaded with equipment and vehicles to transport ashore. Meanwhile, cranes lift gear from the ship’s flight deck and personnel carry smaller items across the brow.
According to Capt. Kristy D. McCallum, Green Bay’s commanding officer, the crew’s main goal is to complete these simultaneous operations efficiently, expeditiously and, most importantly, safely.
“You have to finish as strong as you started a patrol,” said McCallum. “It may sound counter-intuitive, but offload deserves even more attention and dedication than the onload. Sailors and Marines are tired from the months on patrol and the gear may not be 100 percent operational, add in a touch of ‘channel fever’ and the risks can multiply. I know our blue and green-side leadership will be watching. We will do the evolutions by the book and the offload will go as safely as the onload.”
Chief Quartermaster Joseph Murray, craftmaster of LCU 1631, described a similar outlook for his crew. LCU 1631 disembarked Green Bay’s well deck prior to the ship’s arrival in port. Murray said their primary mission for the offload is transporting large equipment, such as seven ton trucks known as medium tactical vehicle replacements.
“We want to safely maximize every load we take on board,” said Murray. “We may almost be done, but our focus right now is to finish as efficiently as we started.”
Since July, members of the 31st MEU have played an integral role in the ship’s aviation and amphibious operations. VMM-265 pilots supported of a variety of missions including close air support, assault support and assisted in search and rescue operations throughout the summer patrol. These flight operations were crucial to the success of the bilateral exercise Talisman Sabre 2015 with the Australian military.
“It’s been a successful summer for VMM-265 (Reinforced), working with our Navy counterparts and theater partners,” said Capt. Rob Steinhauser, AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter pilot training officer for VMM-265 (Reinforced). “We furthered our unit’s training and passed on knowledge to a new generation of pilots. The blue-green relationship here was one of the best I’ve ever had. We share a positive work ethic which greatly contributed to mission accomplishment.”
Throughout the underway period embarked Marines conducted extensive combat rubber raiding craft (CRRC) operations including preparation for missions through multiple launches and recoveries from Green Bay’s well. This was indispensable during Talisman Sabre when the boat company participated in a large-scale amphibious assault exercise. Marines joined their Australian Army counterparts to operate 32 CRRCs from Green Bay’s well deck to shore.
“This patrol was challenging and dynamic,” said McCallum. “Our Sailors and embarked Marines completed many ‘first-offs’ during TS 2015 and the 31st MEU certification. Whether assuming the role of Air Defense Commander, landing Australian helicopters, or flexing to provide support for typhoon-impacted Saipan, the blue-green team adapted and met every mission. As part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and the 31st MEU, Green Bay was where it mattered, when it mattered, demonstrating U.S. commitment to security and stability in the region.”