WHITE BEACH, Okinawa (NNS) -- The amphibious dock landing ship, USS Germantown (LSD 42) returned safely to White Beach, Okinawa, Oct. 30 after successfully completing III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) exercise Blue Chromite (BC) 16.
The operations were a combined effort that included 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines attached to the 4th Marine Regiment embarked aboard Germantown. This was the second consecutive year that Germantown participated in the annual U.S. Marine-led exercise designed to evaluate various air and ground unit deployment programs (UDP) and to integrate adjacent air and logistics combat elements (ACE and LCE).
Germantown arrived at White Beach Naval Base Oct. 25 to embark the Marines as well as to on-load their mission essential equipment. The on-load continued when Germantown got underway and recovered nine Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AVV) in preparation for the upcoming amphibious assault.
"For many of our Marines, this is either their first time on a ship or their first time embarking in quite a while,' said Maj. Parker Randall, executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, a Bellville, Ohio native. "Blue Chromite is very important to help the Blue-Green team stay consistent and sharpen our skills."
With all personnel and gear on board, the evolutions began with a series of deck landing qualifications (DLQ). VM-22 Osprey aircraft from Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 36 conducted underway launch and recoveries on the ship's flight deck in order to maintain proficiency and training. Daytime and challenging night flight operations were conducted as well as aerial assault landings, passenger transfers and refueling evolutions.
Blue Chromite's primary training objective was executed the final day of the exercise off the shores of Okinawa. Germantown served as the launch ship for the amphibious and airborne assault, disembarking the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines and their equipment via Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV), two Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) assigned to Naval Beach Unit 7, and two MAG-36 Ospreys. Once the beach was secured, the Marine landing force proceeded to seize strongholds held by a mock enemy provided for by acting forces from the U.S. Marines.
"Germantown is a versatile amphibious platform and my crew is very proficient at delivering Marines to the shore for offensive purposes or for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations," said Cmdr. Gary Harrington, Germantown's commanding officer. "The purpose of embarking the Marines and doing exercises like Blue Chromite 16 is to gain proficiency and interoperability to stay mission-ready. There is no experience like actually embarking a ship and building a routine at sea to sync and learn to work together as one team."
During this scheduled patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility, Germantown successfully completed several other amphibious exercises, facilitating ship-to-shore movements of U.S. Marines as well as Marines from partner nations. Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 15 was conducted from July to September, incorporating a series of bilateral training evolutions with armed forces from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. The ship then participated in Amphibious Landing Exercise PHIBLEX, working with Philippine Navy counterparts to expose them to expeditionary warfare and integrating U.S. Marines with their Philippine Marine counterparts and strengthening interoperability with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
"From an operational standpoint, it doesn't get much busier than this," said Harrington. "I am very proud of how our crew performed, not only during Blue Chromite, but during this entire deployment. We integrated with joint forces and partner nations and executed every exercise and mission with precision."