Amphibious Assault Vehicle Returns to USS Rushmore (LSD 47) During DAWN BLITZ 2011 Exercises 

USS Rushmore (LSD 47) Participates in Dawn Blitz Amphibious Exercise 
by LTJG Jill Weston, Rushmore Public Affairs Officer 
SAN DIEGO  - USS Rushmore (LSD 47) embarked more than 250 Marines aboard last week from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) to launch DAWN BLITZ 2011, an exercise aimed to demonstrate the Navy and Marine Corps’ ability to conduct amphibious landings.

Since 1990, the Navy and the Marine Corps have worked together to perform more than 100 amphibious operations around the world. DAWN BLITZ is part of a series of exercises focused to train and reinforce Marines and Sailors to conduct amphibious operations.

The participating ships, USS Rushmore and USS Bonhomme Richard, are amphibious ships designed to embark Marines to perform amphibious operations anywhere around the globe - from assaulting an enemy beachhead to bringing ashore supplies to a hurricane-ravaged nation.

“DAWN BLITZ is an exercise that emphasizes the Navy and Marine Corps’ tradition as a maritime force-in-readiness,” said 1st LT Michael Sanders. “A lot of the Marine Corps’ focus is now in land-locked countries in the Middle East, and exercises like Dawn Blitz are vital in reminding the Marine Corps that we were originally designed to embark on ships to be a maritime force around the globe.”

Rushmore embarked 28 Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAV’s) for the first amphibious demonstration. Despite many Marines and Sailors never having done this type of operation before, there was an immediate and instantaneous synchronization of the Blue and Green teams. From the Well Deck personnel to the AAV operators, to the radio operators on the beach to the plotters in the Combat Information Center on Rushmore, every Marine and every Sailor made a difference in orchestrating the complex task of positioning multiple 26-ton AAV’s into the confines of an amphibious ship’s well deck.

This was my first year participating in the exercise, and it reinforced the strength Navy-Marine Corps relationship and how we do what we do,” said Ensign Trent Kenmai, the Repair Division Officer aboard Rushmore. “Every Sailor and every Marine contributed something.”

Leadership from the Navy and Marine Corps merged to conduct battle space shaping operations, non-combatant evacuation training, operational planning, live-fire shoots, shipboard driver qualification, aircraft take-offs and landings aboard USS Rushmore and USS Bonhomme Richard and the largest amphibious landing at Camp Pendleton this year.

Over the four-day exercise, Rushmore conducted multiple amphibious assualts on the beach of Camp Pendleton. The exercise tested the MEB’s abilities to plan and execute amphibious landings alongside the Navy’s Expeditionary Strike Group 3. Refinements were made during each step of the exercise, and the adaptable partnership of the Navy and Marine Corps allowed for one of the largest AAV launches this decade.

For twenty years now, the Sailors and Marines serving onboard amphibious ships have conducted a range of missions from humanitarian aid and disaster relief in places like New Orleans, Haiti, and Pakistan to crisis response in Lebanon and the Ivory Coast, to security and counterterrorism operations in Latin America, Georgia, the Philippines and the Horn of Africa.

The success of this exercise speaks to the extraordinary work and persistence of the Marines and Sailors.

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