USS Harpers Ferry
"First In Freedom"
USS Harpers Ferry Provides Valuable Training Opportunities
INDIAN OCEAN — Four junior officers assigned to the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) embarked aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) to receive training, experience and exposure to amphibious operations, Feb. 23.

They participated in shipboard evolutions ranging from underway replenishments (UNREP) to launching amphibious assault vehicles from the ship’s well deck.

 “I got to see a lot of evolutions that I haven’t seen before due to being in the ship yards and being on a pre-commissioned ship,” said Lt. Milton Gray, from Detroit, a tactical information warfare officer assigned to Arlington.

The officers are participating in the same training structure as surface warfare officers (SWO) assigned to Harpers Ferry, that are trying to earn their SWO qualifications by completing a series of personnel qualification standards and weekly training sessions.

 “I really wanted the underway experience. You can read all the Navy books and publications you want, but it’s nothing like actually doing it in real life,” said Ensign Amber Meer, from Easton, Md., an administration officer assigned to Arlington.
Harpers Ferry deployed in August 2013 with the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group. The Harpers Ferry’s officers used their previous experiences conducting UNREPs, flight quarters, and amphibious operations to mentor the Arlington officers. Two of the Arlington officers will remain aboard until the end of deployment.

 “It’s a breath of fresh air to have officers from our sister ship get to know what deployment is like and how amphibious ships work in real life situations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brad A. Fancher, chief engineer assigned to Harpers Ferry. “I’m sure the experiences they gain here will benefit their own command on the upcoming training cycle.”

Harpers Ferry is part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (13th MEU), is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet area of responsibility.
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