INDIAN OCEAN (NNS) – There is a new player at Talisman Sabre 2015, and it comes in the innovative form of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20).
Each ship in the Bonhomme Richard (BHR) Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) has a role to play in the bi-lateral exercise Talisman Sabre. This includes everything from the planning stages of the exercise to the rehearsal and execution of the amphibious assault.
Lt. Joe Brisco, Operations Officer on board USS Green Bay (LPD 20), says while no ship’s mission outweighs the others, Green Bay’s mission is likely the most diverse.
“What sets the new LPDs apart from any other ship in an amphibious team are their flexibility and versatility,” said Brisco.
During the simulated amphibious assault, Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), Australian Army soldiers and Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) soldiers launched from Green Bay’s well deck in 32 combat rubber raiding craft (CRRCs) and simulated landing on a beach in Australia. Lt. Brisco says the ship’s key mission is to embark up to 800 Marines and transport them quickly and effectively to shore.
“Our main goal is to put troops on the beach,” said Lt. Brisco, “On time, every time.”
Lt. Brisco said Green Bay; as a member of the Navy’s newest, most advanced class of landing ship dock, the San Antonio-class, brings assets and capabilities which its predecessor, the Austin-class did not. Allowing Green Bay to integrate to a greater level with the ESG or amphibious ready group (ARG), carry a heavier mission load and support a wider range of operations.
While the new ships accommodate fewer Marines, Green Bay can store twice as much equipment. This increased capacity allows the ship to store a greater quantity of troop transportation such as the high mobility, multipurpose vehicles (HMMWVs) or “Humvees”, various earth moving equipment and the M1 Abrahms Main Battle Tank for the embarked troops to operate with. This greater storage capacity, coupled with her embarked landing craft utility (LCU), from Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, allows Green Bay to reliably fulfill its mission of getting Marines and their equipment to the beach and back.
The increased carrying capacity does not just apply to vehicle and equipment storage. Green Bay can house a larger number of aircraft on the ship’s flight deck with the ability to operate several at once. Typical launches and recoveries on Green Bay’s flight deck include up to two simultaneously operating aircraft. The ship’s company includes a full air department and is augmented by a portion of an embarked Marine Corps Aviation Combat Element (ACE). This Navy and Marine Corps integration accommodates larger, modern aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey.
“Green Bay is definitely not an amphibious assault ship or an aircraft carrier,” said Lt. Brisco. “But we certainly provide a significant aviation capability to compliment the air side of Bonhomme Richard’s mission and provide a substantial amount of support to landing troops.”
During and following the assault on July 11, pilots launched from Green Bay’s flight deck in helicopters and joined other aircraft from the ESG as they provided surveillance from above.
“They are the eyes and ears for the troops on the ground,” said Lt. Brisco.
The contributions of Green Bay to the successful amphibious assault did not end in the well deck or on the flight deck. Sailors throughout the ship also had a role to play. The ship’s Operations Department worked in close coordination with other members of the ESG to plan the dozens of ship’s movements, create safe ship-to-shore routes and ensure hundreds of flight hours were carried out safely.
“This was a success across the board,” said Lt. Brisco.
“Exercise Talisman Sabre has been a superb litmus test for Green Bay,” said Capt. Kristy D. McCallum, the ship’s commanding officer. “The diversity of the 31st MEU and maritime missions that the crew supported confirms the versatility of the San Antonio-class. We are a potent addition to the BHR ARG and are proud to have played our part in the exercise. Of course the ship could not reach its potential without the creativity and dedication of my outstanding crew. I am proud of their performance and their willingness to go the extra mile to ensure the success of TS 15. “
Talisman Sabre is a bilateral exercise intended to train Australian and U.S. forces in planning and conducting combined task force operations.