A Fleet Survey Team (FST) from John C. Stennis Space Center, Miss., embarked on dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), took to the waters of Shoalwater Bay to conduct hydrographic surveys prior to Germantown’s planned amphibious operations, July 15 – 16.
Hydrographic surveys provide mission critical information about water depth levels and help chart a map of the seafloor to better optimize shore landings during amphibious operations.
“We survey the beach and we find the best possible landing zone for any amphibious assault vehicle,” said Aerographer’s Mate 3rd Class Jacob Tutor. “We give them a safe entry and exit route to the beach.”
While it is more common to fly a survey team ahead of the ship, Commander Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11, Germantown’s parent command, prefers to embark an FST on the ship, where they would have more flexibility to perform surveys from the sea.
“Embarking a survey team with us is a highly effective way of getting the information we need without having to actually be in-country prior to our arrival,” said Lt. Dwayne Scott, the ship’s boatswain.
Due to the constant change of waters and topographic features caused by weather conditions, surveys require periodic updates to maintain the most up-to-date information.
“It’s been a while since we’ve surveyed here, so conducting this survey is extremely critical to the safety of our crew and security of our equipment,” said Scott.
The information from the survey will provide data for PHIBRON 11, the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, forward deployed in Okinawa, Japan, and the Australian navy during exercise Talisman Saber 2013 – a comprehensive, complex training evolution that combines the U.S. and Australian maritime and sea-to-shore capabilities, aimed to improve combat readiness and interoperability.
Germantown is on patrol with the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and is currently participating in exercise Talisman Saber 2013 in the U.S. 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility.
The Bonhomme Richard ARG is commanded by Capt. Cathal O’Connor, commodore, PHIBRON 11 and reports to the Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, headquartered in White Beach, Okinawa, Japan.
Press Release, July 17, 2013; Image: US Navy