SASEBO, Japan – The forward-deployed amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) returned to Sasebo after participating in Cobra Gold 2012 (CG12), March 5.
Germantown departed Sasebo Jan. 30 to onload Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in White Beach, Okinawa, on Feb. 1 prior to beginning CG12, an exercise designed to promote regional peace and security. Nations involved in the exercise include the United States, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, and the Republic of Korea and representatives from more than 20 countries. CG 12 promotes ties between nations and strong military working relationships.
During the exercise, the 31st MEU conducted amphibious raids, amphibious assaults, helicopter assaults, small boat raids and humanitarian disaster relief operations, and a mock non-combatant evacuation exercise. Lt. Col. Brian C. Hawkins, operations officer of the 31st MEU, said he felt the MEU performed exceptionally well during CG12.
“The 31st MEU was extremely successful during this exercise,” he said. “Marines that participated (had) an opportunity to see different tactics and techniques that the other nations employ. By becoming more integrated and learning each other’s tactics and procedures we can operate better in any type of situation, whether it is a contingency mission or humanitarian aid and disaster relief.”
After participating in CG12, the ship made a port visit to Laem Chabang, Kingdom of Thailand, where Sailors and Marines had the opportunity to participate in a community service (COMSERV) project at Ban Ronghip School. There, Sailors and Marines delivered school supplies and sporting goods such as soccer balls, volleyballs, and badminton equipment. Volunteers also read books, played soccer, volleyball, and played singing games with the children. This COMSERV was another chance for U.S. Sailors to continue their commitment to help one of their closest allies as they recover from the natural disaster that struck the country last year.
“In a big way, our COMSERV helped communicate to the Thai people of this area our commitment to their recovery after the flooding that happened last year,” said Germantown Chaplain Lt. j. g. Robert Hecox. “7th Fleet had committed that we would be back to give help and give resources, and this is just one element of keeping that promise.”
Sailors also had the chance to experience the Thai culture through various Morale, Welfare and Recreation tours.
“I rode some elephants, mingled with the locals, and enjoyed the Thai culture,” said Yeoman 3rd Class Joel Hallas. “I had a great time.”
Prior to arriving in Sasebo, the ship made another stop in Okinawa, where the 31st MEU offloaded the Marines, their vehicles and equipment. Germantown’s Command Master Chief Jesus Galura said the deployment was a success.
“The crew did an outstanding job for a short-notice deployment,” he said. “They supported the embarked Marines throughout Cobra Gold and displayed outstanding behavior during the port visit.”
With the ship’s return to Sasebo, her crew will perform maintenance on some of the equipment before heading out for her next mission.
“The main goal is to pick-up landing craft air cushions for Iwo-to and complete needed maintenance,” said Galura. “The can-do crew will continue to perform on the highest level!”
Germantown, commanded by Cmdr. Carol McKenzie, was commissioned Feb. 8, 1986, is capable of carrying more than 721 Sailors and Marines, and reports to Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. J. Scott Jones.