The flagship of Exercise Bold Alligator 2014 (BA14), amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), was one of the final underway units to return to Naval Station Norfolk, Nov. 10.
BA14 was a two-week, multinational exercise hosted by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps to strengthen core competencies in the areas of amphibious operations and bilateral command and control.
"Everyone worked tremendously hard," said Capt. David Bossert, commanding officer of Kearsarge. "All of the task forces planned and executed multiple missions, each of which were successful. It's been the measure of effectiveness and everyone made it home safely."
This year's iteration of Bold Alligator focused on crisis response missions to include non-combatant evacuations, theatre security and humanitarian assistance.
Although most amphibious exercises are known for ship to shore transport by sea, aviation also played a key role in the exercise. For the first time, Bold Alligator implemented joint service flight operations outside of regular flight deck certifications.
"This was the first time we had blue-green integration on the flight deck during an actual exercise," said Cmdr. Donald Jamiola, air boss on Kearsarge. "Everything went extremely well and flowed smoothly."
There was some concern about weather during the course of operations, but every obstacle nature put in place was overcome.
"It was challenging to complete flight operations due to the weather, but we successfully completed 340 launches and recoveries," said Jamiola. "Everything went extremely well and flowed smoothly."
Participants of BA14 included representatives from STRIKFORNATO, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States.
Participating ships included USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), USS Arlington (LPD 24), USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), USS Hue City (CG 66), USS Laboon (DDG 58), USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Farragut (DDG 99), USNS Choctaw County (JHSV 2), USNS John Lenthall (TAO 189), USNS Medgar Evers (T AKE 13), USNS Apache (T-ATF 172), HNLMS Johan de Witt (L801, Netherlands), HDMS Niels Juel (F363, Denmark), ARM Baja California (PO 162, Mexico) and BAP Islay (SS 35, Peru).
Each surface combatant was assigned to one of three amphibious task groups.
"All three amphibious task groups planned and executed contingency missions, which is much more complicated than a large-scale assault," said Bossert. "If the weather didn't permit, an alternate course of action was developed and executed."
Bossert was very proud of the work done, specifically by Kearsarge Sailors and Marines, to prepare for a mission of the magnitude and importance of BA14. The ship supported not only the assigned crew, but also embarked troops and staff totaling more than 3,280 people.
"Coming into this event, there was a substantial amount of repair, cleaning and preservation work done to get the ship ready," said Bossert. "There was an untold amount of work done by Sailors and Marines assigned to USS Kearsarge, and they have done a phenomenal job."
Bossert went on to praise the Kearsarge crew for the time and dedication they put into making BA14 a success.
"My Kearsarge crew is made up of great Americans and patriots," said Bossert. "They worked really long hours knowing that this exercise was very important to our country. I can't say enough about the effort, the care factor, which went into making sure that this ship was ready. It could not have been done without the crew."
Bold Alligator took place Oct. 29 - Nov. 10, afloat and ashore along the Eastern Seaboard.
For more news from USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), visit www.kearsarge.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/USS-Keasarge-LHD-3 or www.navy.mil/local/lhd3