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141209-N-ZZ999-830 PACIFIC OCEAN (December 9, 2014) – An amphibious assault vehicle assigned to the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion launches from the well deck of USS Rushmore (LSD 47) off the coast of San Clemente Island, one of the Channel Islands of California, in support of Exercise Steel Knight 2015. Steel Knight is an annual exercise designed to train and prepare the 1st Marine Division for deployment as the Ground Combat Element (GCE) of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF). The focus of the exercise is to ensure that 1st Marine Division is fully prepared to deploy as a military force across the full spectrum of conflict and is capable of responding to any crisis across the globe. (U.S. Navy photo by Operations Specialist 1st Class Brent C. Wolfe II/Released)
USS Rushmore Embarks Marines in Support of Exercise Steel Knight
By Operations Specialist 1st Class Brent C. Wolfe II, USS Rushmore Public Affairs
PACIFIC OCEAN – The officers and crew of USS Rushmore (LSD 47) welcomed elements of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and amphibious assault vehicles (AAV) of the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion during Exercise Steel Knight 2015 coast of Camp Pendleton, California, Dec. 8-11.

Steel Knight is an annual exercise that includes elements from the entire I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF). The exercise focuses on conventional operations and provides realistic training that prepares the Marines for overseas operations.

Rushmore’s participation in the exercise included supporting Alpha Co., 1st Bn., 5th Marines in conducting a mock amphibious raid onto the beaches of San Clemente Island off the coast of California.

Rushmore’s participation in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014 exercise helped to prepare the crew to successfully execute this exercise.

The 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion was particularly eager to participate in the evolution to test the upgraded command and control equipment installed in their AAV’s. While unexpected foul weather prevented Rushmore from conducting AAV operations, the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, with the assistance of Rushmore’s communications team, was still able to coordinate testing their new equipment.

This exercise was significant because it continued to strengthen the Navy-Marine Corps partnership and hone skills necessary to execute amphibious operations.

Following the completion of Steel Knight and the backload of all Marine equipment using landing craft, air cushion (LCAC) craft from Amphibious Craft Unit 5 to Camp Pendleton, Rushmore will continue to conduct shipboard training and helicopter operations in the local Southern California operation areas.
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