Sailors and Marines conduct LCAC Operations aboard Bonhomme Richard
U.S. Sailors, assigned to amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, work together with Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to conduct coordinated amphibious operations during Exercise Ssang Yong 2016 (SY16).
SY16 is a biennial combined amphibious exercise conducted by forward-deployed forces with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy and Marine Corps, Australian Army and Royal New Zealand Army Forces. This exercise strengthens interoperability and working relationships across a wide range of military operations from disaster relief to complex expeditionary operations.
Onboard Bonhomme Richard, Sailors from deck department ensure communication and safety during well deck operations, and Sailors of NBU 7 operate the landing craft air cushions (LCAC) that support Bonhomme Richard’s amphibious capabilities.
Combat cargo’s role within the well deck and vehicle storage area is to transport and organize Marine equipment and ensure the timely loading and unloading of amphibious crafts.
“Everything is organized and timed out. It’s all about precision,” said Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Andres Chavez, a well deck safety petty officer.
The communication between these groups is vital to a seamless execution of exercise movements.
“Good communication during evolutions is important when we work together,” said Bonhomme Richard’s Well Deck Combat Cargo Assistant Staff Sgt. Hughey Donald. “If we’re stepping on each other’s timelines, there is either a delay in the execution or the entire evolution does not happen.”
These coordinated operations directly affect the role of BHRESG within SY16. The execution of these amphibious movements provides invaluable training for these Sailors and Marines.
“For the well deck team, our job is to manage all the gear within the well and the ‘upper V’,” said Donald. “So for example, if we are asked to execute a HADR (Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief) mission, we need to be able to extract HADR equipment.”
The demand of SY16 has allowed combat cargo Marines to implement organizational strategies and teamwork to maintain readiness.
Donald said, “This exercise proves our capability to plan for any type of mission.”
For many of the young Sailors in deck department, Chavez said SY16 has given them hands-on experience.
“This is real-time training,” said Chavez. “It’s not someone sitting down in a classroom and talking about it. They actually get to see all that we train for in action and capture those lessons learned for future missions.”
Bonhomme Richard is the flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group and is participating in Ssang Yong 16, a biennial combined amphibious exercise conducted by forward-deployed U.S. forces with the Republic of Korea Navy and Marine Corps, Australian Army and Royal New Zealand Army Forces in order to strengthen our interoperability and working relationships across a wide range of military operations - from disaster relief to complex expeditionary operations
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