Royal Thai, Republic of Korea and U.S. Navy sailors swapped places on their respective ships during the amphibious component of the multi-national exercise Cobra Gold, February 12.
Service members from USS Ashland, Korea’s amphibious landing ship Cheon Wang Bong (LST 686) and Thailand’s landing platform dock HTMS Angthong (LPD 791), welcomed visitors aboard their ships.
This event kicked off the amphibious portion of CG 16.
Lt. j.g. Dan Constanzo, assistant first lieutenant aboard Ashland, embarked aboard Angthong for two days. During this passenger exchange, U.S., Thai and South Korean service members exchanged information, learned from each other and trained together.
Constanzo said: “Being able to have a face-to-face conversation and physically see how each other nation operates, allows the different ships to learn quickly and efficiently from one another. It always helps when you can put a face to the person speaking on the other end of the radio.”
While aboard Angthong, Constanzo was able to observe deck operations, a soccer match in the well deck, sample different cultural foods and he was invited to observe a RTN tradition that takes place prior to every exercise.
“We all walked to the top of a mountain together. At the top, there was an outdoor museum dedicated to their navy complete with a shrine of the father of the Thai Navy,” said Constanzo. “Before every exercise, Thai service members climb this mountain and pray for good luck and a successful exercise. Being there and seeing that helped me understand their culture and was one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve had to this point in my career.”
In addition to sending Constanzo to Angthong, Lt. Laura Lopez, the anti-terrorism officer aboard Ashland, embarked aboard Cheon Wang Bong to observe how they conduct amphibious operations.
Cheon Wang Bong Sailors asked Lopez to compare and contrast the differences she recognized between each ship’s operations. Lopez felt that by participating in that discussion she was helping to accomplish the intent behind the passenger exchange.
Ashland is assigned to the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and is participating in exercise Cobra Gold 16, a Thai-U.S. co-sponsored multinational joint exercise designed to advance regional security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.