The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5 and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) successfully completed Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) off the coast of Southern California, Aug. 25.
The 14-day event is the second of three integrated training evolutions aimed at preparing the ARG/MEU team for deployment.
“COMPTUEX gives the ARG/MEU the opportunity to train together for a variety of missions,” said Capt. Brad Arthur, Deputy Commander, Amphibious Squadron Five. “Rehearsing mission planning and execution together promotes cohesion and understanding among the Navy-Marine Corps team, and that’s vital to our success on deployment.”
Commander, Carrier Strike Group 15 evaluated the integrated operational capabilities of the PHIBRON 5 staff, the 11th MEU, and the three ARG ships, amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45) and amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25).
The ARG/MEU responded to a variety of scenarios, similar to what they may see on deployment, to test their ability to work together and conduct the full range of amphibious missions safely. U.S. naval ships, submarines and aircraft served as opposing forces in anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine, strike and cyber warfare and maritime interdiction scenarios.
“These Sailors and Marines have been working together now for several months,” said Makin Island Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Melson. “COMPTUEX was our chance to put the product of that training on display and showcase our ability to work as a seamless blue-green team. Every day each of us learned something new, and every day we got a little bit better. I’m extremely proud of how far this team has come.”
COMPTUEX scenarios called on the three ARG ships to support the gamut of amphibious operations. Marine aircraft, including AV-8B Harriers, MV-22 Ospreys, AH-1Z Cobras, UH-1Y Hueys, and CH-53E Super Stallions, as well as Navy MH-60 Seahawks, conducted simulated raids, amphibious landings, maritime interdiction and humanitarian assistance mission from ARG flight decks. The ships’ well decks launched and recovered amphibious landing craft, including landing craft air cushion, amphibious assault vehicles, and landing craft utility to support movement of Marines and gear ashore.
“We learned a lot about our abilities to fight as a collective force,” said Comstock Commanding Officer Cmdr. Gervy Alota. “[Comstock is] lucky to be in the company of two extraordinary ships, Makin Island and Somerset, and I could honestly say that I would not want to sail into harm’s way with anyone else.”
Amphibious Squadron 5, the Makin Island ARG and the 11th MEU plan to execute the third and final phase of integrated pre-deployment training in September during Certification Exercise (CERTEX).