US Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) has embarked Marines assigned to 3d Marine Division (MARDIV) at White Beach, Okinawa, ahead of exercise Cobra Gold 2018.
Bonhomme Richard embarked 3d MARDIV personnel, vehicles and equipment before continuing a scheduled patrol in which the team will participate in the multilateral exercise.
Cobra Gold is the largest theater security cooperation exercise in the Indo-Asia-Pacific designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crises.
Bonhomme Richard, along with embarked MH-60S Sea Hawks, assigned to the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, departed from Sasebo, Japan, Jan. 23.
During the transit from Sasebo, Bonhomme Richard embarked aviation units that will form the Aviation Combat Element of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. Embarked assets include AH-1Z Vipers, assigned to the “Gunfighters” of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 369, and CH-53E Super Stallions, assigned to the “Wolfpack” of Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 466. Additionally, landing craft air cushions (LCACs) of Naval Beach Unit 7 are embarked to provide a seaborne ship-to-shore capability.
Prior to arriving at White Beach, Bonhomme Richard conducted multiple shipboard certifications, gun exercises and combat systems test fires, to include a pre-aim calibration fire (PACFIRE) and a towed drone unit (TDU) exercise with the MK 15 close-in weapons system (CIWS).
Bonhomme Richard and the embarked Marines are scheduled to train alongside Royal Thai Armed Forces counterparts in the annual exercise Cobra Gold and serve as a ready-force for any type of contingency while on the multi-month patrol.
Bonhomme Richard is taking part in the exercise as part of its regularly scheduled patrol in the Indo-Pacific region.