EAST CHINA SEA – Sailors aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46), along with Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), completed amphibious integration training (AIT) while on deployment in the 7th Fleet area of operations, Jan. 30.
AIT provides the initial opportunity for the Tortuga and other ships of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) to conduct operational maneuvering from sea to shore before supporting multilateral exercises, contingency operations, or humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.
“AIT allows the Marines of battalion 1/5 to conduct normal amphibious missions while learning and implementing our Navy’s brothers and sister’s procedures for their amphibious ops,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael Vecchia, Bravo Company 1st Sgt. “The training received is extremely important as the safety of the Marines is always the focus, but without understanding all the moving pieces of the Navy it makes for potential hazards.”
The training included theater security cooperation, amphibious operations, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises.
While similar to prior pre-deployment exercises and training, AIT is designed to strengthen the blue-green team's ability to operate together, and respond to various situations while deployed.
"AIT is a training evolution that concentrates on Marines, but the ship plays a very important role in the training to make sure our Marine brothers and sisters can do their job ashore and at sea effectively," said Cmdr. John Barnett, Tortuga’s commanding officer. “Our success during this training proves how important it is for the blue-green team to train together so that we can be prepared for real world challenges."
Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11, made up of the 31st MEU, Naval Beach Unit 7 and Bonhomme Richard ARG all team up to create one of the most flexible forces in the Asia-Pacific region, which is capable of accomplishing numerous missions anywhere in the world.
Bonhomme Richard ARG is currently operating in the 7th Fleet area of operations and reports to Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, headquartered in White Beach, Okinawa, Japan.