SATTAHIP, Thailand - The forward-deployed amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) served as the staging area during the Non-combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO) off the coast of Thailand Feb. 12.
The mock NEO was a chance for the crew to display what services they would provide in the event that an actual NEO would occur.
The NEO is just one of the operations being conducted during Exercise Cobra Gold 2012, the annual multinational military exercise co-hosted by the U.S. and Thailand, designed to advance security throughout the Asia-Pacific region and enhance interoperability with participating nations.
The participants were flown to the ship via helicopters, where they were ushered across the flight deck to begin their in-processing. They were greeted by the commanding officer, who welcomed them to their new home, and informed them of the processing procedure.
LT. Amanda Lambert, the NEO Coordinator said, “We check them in, inventory their personal items, then we offer snacks and water. Some of the evacuees can be hungry or looking for comfort items, such as cookies.”
Once they were finished with their initial briefing, the evacuees were ushered to medical, where they were given a tour of the facility and what services would be available for them.
“In medical, they get a medical screening where their vital signs are taken and evaluated for any additional medical attention if required,” said Lambert. Afterwards, they are then taken down to the mess decks, where they can begin the paperwork for processing.
On the mess decks, Petty Officer 1st Class Gabriel Young, a personnel specialist, said the evacuees are required to fill out a Transient Guest Data Card, where information such as passport numbers, next of kin, age, and birthplace are recorded and catalogued.
“This is for accountability so we know how many evacuees are aboard,” said Young. “The data cards also let them know what life boat they are assigned to and which berthing they will reside in. Additionally, it lists their past and present medical conditions, important ship phone numbers and hour of operations for various shipboard services.”
After leaving the mess decks, the evacuees were given a tour of the ship that included spaces such as the pilot house and the flight deck. Opportunities to take and pose for photos were offered as they awaited the next helicopter to return them to the shore and bring on the next group of mock evacuees.
Germantown, commanded by Cmdr. Carol McKenzie, was commissioned Feb. 8, 1986 and is capable of carrying more than 721 Marines and Sailors. The Germantown is participating in Cobra Gold 2012, along with USS Tortuga (LSD 46), and reports to Commander, Amphibious Force Seventh Fleet, Rear Adm. Richard Landolt, who is headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.