America ARG ships start final pre-deployment test

An MV-22 Osprey takes off from the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) in May 2017. Photo: US Navy

Ships gathered around the U.S. Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS America got underway from San Diego to start their final certification exercise (CERTEX) on May 31.

The amphibious ready group (ARG), composed of amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) in addition to USS America, is currently entering the final portion of an extensive pre-deployment training period in preparation for the upcoming deployment.

CERTEX is the last in a series of training exercises, which included nearly three months of integrated training at sea, certifying the team for deployment.

“For the 15th marine expeditionary units (MEU) and America amphibious ready group (ARG), CERTEX represents the culmination of over a year’s worth of preparation to deploy as one cohesive Navy and Marine Corps force capable of doing what no other nation can,” said Lt. Cmdr. Gabe Burgi, operations officer, Commander, Amphibious Squadron 3.

Throughout the CERTEX training period Marines and Sailors react to scenarios within a six-hour window using the Marine Corps’ Rapid Response Planning Process (R2P2), simulating real-world challenges and processes that will yield success during deployment.

“We are being graded on our ability to operate together as a MEU/ARG team in support of missions that defend our nation and our allies,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Byrne, 15th MEU operations officer. “Conducting warfare and operating from the sea is complex, but it is a capability we together [MEU/ARG] provide to our nation,” he added.

More than 1,800 sailors and 2,600 marines are assigned to the America ARG and the 15th MEU in preparation for deployment later this year.

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