The amphibious transport dock landing ship USS New York (LPD 21) began participating and serving as the supporting platform for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) during during the commencement of African Lion 2012, April 9.
African Lion 2012, is a bi-lateral theatre and security exercise in conjunction with Royal Moroccan Armed Forces designed to promote inter-operability and coordination between nations, in addition to ensuring regional peace.
Capt. Richard Busch, operations and fire support officer for Marines embarked aboard New York, considers African Lion a great opportunity to strengthen positive relations abroad.
“This exercise is training to enhance mutual understanding of each country’s tactics, techniques, and procedures,” said Busch. “It will also reinforce a long standing relationship with the Moroccan people.”
Staff Sgt. Adrian Rondini, is excited about being able to participate in the exercise.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to work with a different force and learn some tactics, and to teach them some of our own,” said Rondini. “It’s an awesome opportunity anytime we can join efforts with other countries, and it helps build a reputation in case we have future obligations.”
While the exercise predominantly demonstrates the capabilities of the MEU, New York will play a supporting role by facilitating air and amphibious operations. Helicopters from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 261 (reinforced) airlifted munitions from the ship’s flight deck while pre-staging equipment ashore. In addition, landing craft air cushions (LCAC) from Amphibious Craft Unit (ACU) 4 have transported MEU assets from the ship’s well deck.
Quartermaster 2nd Class Amy Klemarczyk, an ACU Sailor, said she is proud of her unit’s involvement in the operation.
“Without the LCACs we wouldn’t be able to transport the MEU and get the mission done,” said Klemarczyk.
New York is part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group with the embarked 24th MEU. New York is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. USS New York is the sixth ship named for the state of New York, and the fifth amphibious transport dock ship in the San Antonio Class. Her motto is “Strength forged through sacrifice. Never forget.”
Naval Today Staff , April 15, 2012; Image: navy