USS DENVER, Coral Sea – While families prepare for back-to-school season and football fans prepare for their fantasy drafts, thousands of Sailors and Marines are conducting simulated combat rubber raiding craft (CRRC) beach assaults, night vision helicopter flight operations, and full scale amphibious raids.
Amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver (LPD 9), the Navy’s oldest deployable ship, and the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are participating in certification exercise (CERTEX), with the rest of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), Aug. 4 to 13.
CERTEX, used to certify the 31st MEU in missions such as mechanized assaults, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations, and non-combatant evacuation operations with the ARG, comes on the heels of exercise Talisman Saber 2013, a biennial exercise that enhances multilateral collaboration between U.S. and Australian forces for future combined operations.
Air assaults with UH-1Y Hueys and AH-1W Super Cobras, attached to the embarked Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 265 (Reinforced), and beach assaults conducted with CRRCs and amphibious assault vehicles, highlight just some of Denver’s abilities to support the 31st MEU’s mission at all hours of the day.
“The ships, together with all the aircraft, all the amphibious crafts and all the Marines, are synchronizing (efforts) around the clock to put forces ashore to achieve objectives,” said Lt. John R. Mateikat, Denver’s operations officer.
In terms of air assaults, Denver also made history with her first recovery and launch of an MV-22 Osprey Aug. 8.
“We introduced the Marines’ newest aircraft to the Navy’s oldest deployable war ship,” said Capt. Kevin P. Lenox, Denver’s commanding officer.
The Osprey provided the crew of Denver with a whole new capability and gave the crew an opportunity for some additional training.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s your first landing or your hundredth, you always pick up something new,” said Aviation Support Equipment Technician 2nd Class Joshua B. Cary.
U.S. Navy and Marine forces take opportunities like CERTEX to cross-train with the Australian forces to improve overall combat readiness in the U.S. 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR).
“We learn from them too,” said Denver’s Command Master Chief Edwin Purdy. “We always take something back ourselves.”
Denver is currently on patrol with the Bonhomme Richard ARG, commanded by Capt. Cathal O'Connor, commodore, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11 and reports to the Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, headquartered in White Beach, Okinawa, Japan.