RSOI/Foal Eagle 2007
Essex Amphibious Ready Group and embarked elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived in the Republic of Korea (ROK) on March 5 to conduct Reception Staging Onward-Movement and Integration and Foal Eagle 2007 (RSOI/FE 07). Juneau, commanded by Capt. John D. Alexander, was part of the Sasebo, Japan-based Essex Expeditionary Strike Group, which served under Commander, Task Force 76. Task Force 76 was the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force and was headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.
2007's exercise marked the 46th Foal Eagle exercise and the sixth time it's been combined with RSOI. Essex, the only forward-deployed amphibious assault ship and serves Task Force 76, is the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.
RSOI focused on initial operational flow of deployed forces to Korean Theater of Operations: receiving military units in Korea (reception); connecting units with their equipment once in country (staging); moving them into their respective strategic position within the peninsula (onward movement) and integrating newly arrived forces with the forces that are already here (integration).
As a field exercise, RSOI involved primarily troops on the peninsula, while Foal Eagle involved more than 40 ships and more than 100 aircraft from all services of both the U.S. and ROK armed forces. Many of the ships hosted their counterparts as part of the Navy's liaison naval exchange program. They assisted the ships with communications and provided support throughout all the different events, while at the same time conveying interesting ROK Navy perspectives.
In addition to the ship visits, other combined and joint training was conducted throughout the entire Korean peninsula Servicemembers from Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron (NCWRON) 33 from Naval Coastal Warfare Group (NCWGRU) 1 and members of the 308th Early Warning Squadron from the ROK Navy teamed up from 19 Mar. until the end of the month to conduct harbor defense training on the ROK Third Fleet Base, Busan, Cho-do Island and Busan's Pier 8.
Navy pilots attached to Patrol Squadron Four (VP-4) learned how successful the integration of two Naval forces can be in the air when they flew P-3C aircraft over the skies of the ROK with their ROK Navy counterparts from Mar. 25 until Mar. 31. In total, VP-4 launched 11 missions with a 100 percent completions rate.
Divers attached to the U.S. Navy Diving Team, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One Detachment One (MDSU 1 DET 1), and the ROK Navy Diving Team went underway on small Rigid-hull Inflatable (RHIB) Boats off the coast of Chinhae, to conduct various combined training operations from Mar. 22 until Mar. 30.
U.S. Navy Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Three (NMCB-3) and the ROK Sailors from Air Wing 6 combined forces to rebuild a runway damaged in a simulated bombing from Mar. 21-23 at the Air Wing Six side of a runway on the ROK Marine Corps Base in Pohang, ROK. This was the second year that the Rapid Runway Repair (RRR) exercise took place.
In addition to the RRR, the Seabees from NMCB-3 came together again with 61 personnel from the ROK Army 1175th Engineering for a bridge building exercise that began on Mar. 26 and lasted until Mar. 29 near the Hangju Bridge, which is located 30 minutes outside of Seoul. This is the first year that this exercise has taken place.
Juneau played an important role in the exercise by launching amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs) of both nations in conjunction with four ROK Navy ships ROKS Hyangrobong (LST 683), ROKS Birobong (LST 682), ROKS Gojunbong (LST 681) and ROKS Sunginbong. The four ROK ships and Juneau launched a total of 32 Korean AAVs and 13 U.S. AAVs.
Juneau's launch of the AAVs allowed 31st MEU and ROK Marines to reach Mallipo Beach on the western side of the Republic of Korea. Each wave of AAVs were launched with a close interval of 11 seconds each. Deck department aided in completing the mission successfully.
During the AAV launches, Juneau was also simultaneously conducting flight operations. The ship's air department received an assortment of helicopters -- CH-53E Sea Dragons and CH-46 Sea Knight and a SH-60B Seahawk Helicopter -- which landed for refueling before taking to the air for the aerial part of the landing. The Juneau air crew refueled the helicopters expeditiously and helped transport embarked Marines to their destination.
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