Marine Corps tanks were loaded onto Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) during a port visit in Gwangyang Hang, South Korea, April 1.
Ashland pulled into Gwangyang Hang for an on-load of six M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks.
“The reason for the port visit was to on-load M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks to support exercise Ssang Yong,” said Cmdr. Doug Patterson, commanding officer of Ashland.
Marine Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy, deputy commanding general of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Forces and commanding general of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB), also came aboard to witness the event.
“The commanding general of 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade came to observe how we were doing this because, as far as anybody can tell, it hadn’t been done before,” said Patterson. “He wanted to come and see how we were going to go about this and how we would load tanks by crane through the cargo hatch of an LSD.”
The event took place in one of the largest container ports in South Korea, Gwangyang Hang.
“This shows the versatility of expeditionary warfare and that a landing ship, ‘L’ class, can go into a civilian merchant terminal, on-load military gear from a railhead or some other type of transportation, load it, get back underway, and then land that material at some designated landing spot by means of conventional or hover craft,” said Patterson.
The M1A1 tanks will be conducting landing operations with landing craft air cushions (LCACs) in conjunction with Exercise Ssang Yong.
Ashland is assigned to Expeditionary Strike Group Seven and is participating in Exercise Ssang Yong, an annual combined exercise conducted by Navy and Marine forces with the Republic of Korea to strengthen interoperability across the range of military operations.
Press Release, April 4, 2014; Image: Wikimedia