SASEBO, Japan – The amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) returned to its forward-deployed home port after completing a four-month patrol, November 4th. Their accomplishments during the patrol included several key regional engagements, bilateral exercises and the completion of several mission critical warfare certifications.
Germantown completed three phases of bilateral exercises during Cooperation Afloat, Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2015 with partner nations Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. The training events during each phase ranged from expeditionary warfare planning and combined amphibious assaults to maritime security patrol training with Riverine Command Boats (RCB) and live fire missile engagements against drone targets. The exercises also involved various U.S. Marine Corps elements from the 2nd Battalion, 3rd (2/3) Marines working side-by-side with their respective ground force counterparts. These operations were focused on enhancing bilateral interoperability and building readiness for potential real-world scenarios such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts to amphibious military operations.
“I think the Germantown crew and the 2/3 Marines came together very well, having no previous integration or training,” said Marine Maj. Ben Reid, commander of the Special Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) embarked aboard Germantown during the deployment. “The Blue-Green team completed these evolutions very well, carrying their own weight and working together well to succeed. Opportunities like this are important to sustaining our lasting Navy-Marine Corps team.”
Germantown also participated in Amphibious Landing Exercise PHIBLEX, working with Philippine Navy counterparts to expose them to expeditionary warfare and integrating U.S. Marines with their Philippine Marine counterparts and strengthening interoperability with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Germantown wrapped up her patrol with participation in the annual III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) exercise Blue Chromite 2016. The operations were a combined effort that included 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines attached to the 4th Marine Regiment embarked aboard Germantown. This was the second consecutive year that Germantown participated in the annual U.S. Marine-led exercise designed to evaluate various air and ground unit deployment programs (UDP) and to integrate adjacent air and logistics combat elements (ACE and LCE).
“I am very proud of what Germantown’s crew has safely and successfully accomplished this deployment,” said Cmdr. Gary Harrington, Germantown’s commanding officer. “We were given a big job to do and tasked to build upon our Blue-Green teamwork with the U.S. Marines, as well as our very strong partnerships in the region.”
While Germantown visited some traditional port calls this deployment, the crew was also treated to a few exceptional ports as well. There were several key ports visits for theater security engagement and liberty opportunities, which included an initial stop in Surabaya, Indonesia, followed by Pattaya Beach, Thailand and Hong Kong, China. Each port served as a stage for engagement with host nation partners and a chance to experience their unique cultures while on liberty. Guam and Okinawa, Japan were also visited to facilitate equipment on-loads as well as to offer some well deserved liberty to the Sailors.
“We were very pleased to be able to pull into Hong Kong and host the Consul General from the United States, Spain and New Zealand, as well as members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and Navy, at a reception on our ship’s flight deck,” said Harrington. “While every port visit was an excellent engagement opportunity, Hong Kong was unique for our crew as we maximized the time afforded to us and engaged with host nation leadership and organizations every day while in port. The crew truly enjoyed this patrol because of the operations and engagements we executed and not to mention some of the other port calls which aren’t typical places U.S. warships are afforded the opportunity to visit regularly.”
Germantown will now begin a maintenance availability period to sustain the ship’s readiness posture as a forward-deployed Naval force asset before beginning operations again in 2016.