US Navy’s Essex starts deployment preparations with marines

A landing craft air cushion (LCAC) transports an M1A1 Abrams tank into the well deck of USS Essex (LHD 2) during the PMINT exercise, March 23, 2018. Photo: US Navy

US Navy ships from Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 1 started integration drills with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) in preparation for an upcoming deployment.

PHIBRON 1 is comprised of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23), and the Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), which, combined with 13th MEU, is designated as the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).

PMINT is the first part of a three-phase certification process to test the ARG’s mission readiness. During the exercise, more than 1,700 Sailors and 2,500 Marines will integrate to complete a series of evolutions designed to enhance interoperability within the ARG-MEU team.

This joint exercise allows the Navy-Marine Corps team to train as one cohesive unit.

“PMINT is a great training opportunity for our Marines to integrate with our Navy brethren,” said Col. Chandler Nelms, Commanding officer, 13th MEU. “This exercise provides the ARG-MEU team the opportunity to further develop its ability to rapidly plan and execute complex operations in an unfamiliar environment while distributed between three ships and operating from austere locations.”

During PMINT, the Navy and Marine Corps’ team will complete a series of evolutions to include deck landing qualifications, landing craft air cushion (LCAC) operations, amphibious assault vehicle launch and recovery, crew-served weapons training, search and rescue exercises, supporting arms coordination and an air defense exercise.

“This is the first time, in a long time, that our Sailors and Marines will come together and execute training evolutions as a fully staffed, multipurpose amphibious force,” said Capt. Jason A. Burns, Essex’s commanding officer. “As we quickly approach deployment, these evolutions are invaluable, ensuring our war fighting skills are sharp and lethal.”

The Essex ARG and 13th MEU are scheduled to deploy later this year. Upon completion of PMINT, they will move onto the next phase in the certification process, ARG/MEU Exercise.

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