The forward-deployed amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), participated in Korean Marine Exchange Program (KMEP) 15.1, a bilateral training exercise with the Republic of Korea along with the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit March 28 to April 1, 2015.
KMEP is an annual combined exercises conducted by U.S. Marine and Navy Forces with the ROK in order to strengthen the working relationships across the range of military operations — from disaster relief to complex, expeditionary operations.
Ashland provided a unique platform for amphibious operations, providing plenty of space for amphibious assault vehicles and a Landing Craft Utility (LCU) in the well deck and two landing spots for helicopters on the flight deck.
Ashland put its well deck to good use during the exercise, launching its full arsenal of AAVs into the water where they proceeded on their way to meet, and become augmented with, Korean units on the beach.
The U.S. and ROK forces coordinated ship movements, AAV launch positions and rendezvous times and coordinates, all of which came together to create a smooth process for the entirety of the exercise.
During the exercise, ROK navy liaison officers were welcomed aboard ships of the ARG to observe how U.S. forces conduct amphibious operations. ROK navy Lt. j.g. Jimin Choi, assigned to a ROK navy ship salvage unit, stayed aboard Ashland during the duration of the exercise.
Ashland is a part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and, along with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is currently underway in the 7th Fleet area of operations.
Image: US Navy