Ashland Departs White Beach, Okinawa with 31st MEU 
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Raymond D. Diaz III, Commander Amphibious Squadron Eleven Public Affairs 
WHITE BEACH, Okinawa - Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) and embarked Marines from 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit departed White Beach, Okinawa, Feb. 26.

Sailors and Marines will conduct amphibious exercises that reinforce combat readiness.

"The purpose of this underway is to load elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and conduct amphibious integration training and certification exercises," said Cmdr. Doug Patterson, Ashland commanding officer.

Exercises executed aboard Ashland will include joint cooperation between Sailors and Marines such as launching and recovering amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs) and landing craft utilities (LCUs).

"As an amphibious warfare ship, it is our job to embark the Marines and conduct training with them," said Patterson.

Marines will have the opportunity to train aboard Ashland and continue exercises at sea.

"This will be my fourth time on an amphibious ship," said Marine Staff Sgt. Losal Tenzin, of the 31st MEU. "Training and keeping on top of all requirements is an objective."

Ashland, forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan, is currently conducting routine operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility as part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group.

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