SASEBO, Japan - SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- Forward-deployed Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), sailing as part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), departed June 17 for a patrol in the 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR).
Germantown will embark the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), forward deployed in Okinawa, Japan, before it plans to take part in a comprehensive, complex training evolution that combines the Navy and Marine Corps maritime and sea-to-shore capabilities, and work with partners and allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to improve combat readiness and interoperability.
In addition to the Navy and Marine Corps exercises, the crew will have the opportunity to work with the local port communities by way of community service programs.
"One of my favorite aspects of any cruise is working with the local population when we port," said Lt. Robert Hecox, the ship's Chaplain. "It's really rewarding to see all the good we can do when we work together."
While the patrol will serve as the first underway for a variety of new Sailors, it offers the opportunity for veteran Sailors to gain extra qualifications (quals) or even take college courses.
"There are some quals I want to get," said Hospital Corpsman Seaman Andrew Carpio. "There's also a sociology class that they're offering on board, I'm excited to be able to take that."
Germantown is the second of three ships from the ARG to get underway. USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) departed June 14 and USS Denver (LPD 9) will depart at a later date.
Bonhomme Richard ARG is currently operating in the 7th Fleet AOR and reports to the Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, headquartered in White Beach, Okinawa, Japan.