Ashland Arrives in Okinawa and Offloads 31st MEU
150827-N-KM939-522 WHITE BEACH, Okinawa (Aug. 27, 2015) Hospitalman 2nd Class Justin Brown from Washington, Illinois, gives the stop hand signal to an amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) that was loaded onto landing craft utility (LCU) 1666 in the well deck of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48). Ashland is assigned to the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group and is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David A. Cox/Released)
Ashland Arrives in Okinawa and Offloads 31st MEU
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David A. Cox, Amphibious Squadron Eleven Public Affairs
OKINAWA, Japan -- Amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) arrived in Okinawa, Japan Aug. 27 to offload the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

Ashland completed an array of exercises throughout her patrol, which began Jun. 3, that culminated in the bi-annual, joint-force exercise Talisman Sabre 2015 in addition to providing aide to Saipan after Typhoon Soudelor made land fall.

Ashland’s final mission will be to offload the embarked 31st MEU’s Amphibious Assault Platoon and Command Logistics Battalion (CLB) 7 in Okinawa.

Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Martinez, the amphibious assault platoon sergeant, says the mission will consists of several moving parts.

“We will be landing at Camp Schwab, we’ll stage our vehicles on the AAV ramp, get our gear together and turn our weapons into the armory,” said Martinez. “We will also have three AAVs that will be towed to our staging area, the gear that we will be loading into the AAVs include; rucksacks, sea-bags, communications gear, rifles, pistols, M-16s and 50 caliber weapons.”

Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1666 will be working hand-in-hand with the 31st MEU to tow three AAV’s to the staging area in addition to ferrying equipment and vehicles from CLB.

“We will be conducting stern gate marriages and well deck operations for our disembarking 31st MEU, which will include the off-load of amphibious assault vehicles, 7-Ton trucks, tractors and trams,” said Boatswain's Mate Chief Gerren Alexander, the LCU’s Craft Master. “I think this was a successful deployment by both Navy and Marine Corps, we also had a helping hand with the humanitarian relief in Saipan by local civilians. Overall it was a successful deployment, a successful mission and a successful exercise.”

Cmdr. Daniel P. Duhan, the ship’s Commanding Officer, said all aspects of Ashland’s Sailors and the embarked 31st MEU, Navy Beach Unit (NBU) 7’s Beach Party Team (BPT) and LCU 1666 were the definition of teamwork.

“As always there is a lot of turnover before, during, and after a deployment. The pace of operations during this patrol has given Ashland a nucleus of experienced operators that will bridge future turnover within Ashland. The embarked NBU 7 and 31st MEU elements and Team 48, whom all worked completely in sync during this patrol, and just like this one they will not miss a beat during the next patrol in 2016,” said Duhan.

Duhan said the mission was a major success and the conclusion of the patrol in Okinawa sets another milestone in Ashland’s ongoing operations.

“It’s good to be back in Okinawa,” said Duhan. “Coming here is always a momentous event as we commence and conclude our operations and are so warmly welcomed home.”

Ashland and its embarked 31st MEU and NBU 7 are a part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (BHRARG). BHRARG is assigned to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
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