CORAL SEA, Australia – Royal New Zealand Naval officer Lt. Eric Chapman disembarked dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) July 25, after spending three weeks participating in the massive multi-national combined, joint-force exercise Talisman Saber 2013.
Chapman, from Wellington, New Zealand, was able to gain first-hand experience with amphibious operations and combat cargo movement in order to help bolster the growing amphibious forces of the Royal New Zealand Navy.
“It’s definitely been a good opportunity for me to understand the different capabilities of our two navies and how we can interact in future exercises,” said Chapman. “I’ve really enjoyed seeing how all the processes come together.”
Chapman embarked Germantown during a routine port visit to Darwin, Australia, and stayed aboard for the days leading up to and the first 10 days of exercise Talisman Saber, when Germantown worked with embarked service members from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7 and the Royal Australian Navy to execute a simulated assault on the beaches of Shoalwater Bay Training Area.
Chapman, who works in logistics with Joint Forces New Zealand, paid particular attention to combat cargo and the movement of forces to and from the beach.
“We [New Zealand] have an emerging amphibious capability, so part of [my visit] is to really see how the experts […] do it,” said Chapman. “Beginning from the initial planning and seeing it all come together on D-Day was pretty cool.”
A large part of Germantown’s role in Talisman Saber is to conduct ship to shore movements to position and support landing forces on the beach, an area well suited to Chapman’s area of expertise.
“He got a lot of the build up for the exercise; he was here for the main assault and a lot of the ship to shore movements getting the Marine gear to the beach,” said Lt. Kyle L. Hiscock Germantown’s operations officer. “He got a pretty good taste of what we do.”
Germantown is bringing some additional benefit to both the U.S. and Australian forces with a fleet survey team that is embarked to perform hydrographic surveys of the beach, allowing for updated sea floor mapping of the area.
Germantown is on patrol with the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), commanded by Capt. Cathal O'Connor, commodore, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11. PHIBRON 11 reports to the Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, headquartered in White Beach, Okinawa, Japan.