Amphibious Squadron FIVE
Amphibious Squadrons are built much like an athletic team whose coaching and training staff remain permanently intact and receive athletes only for the season. The Core Staff serves as the "coaching staff" for the different units under its command. These units are referred to as Naval Support Elements or NSEs. They serve on this "team" for one year. A PHIBRON's NSE's consists of an Amphibious Assault Ship (LHD or LHA), an Amphibious Transport Dock (LPD), a Dock Landing Ship (LSD), a Fleet Surgical Team (FST-6), a Fleet Information Warfare Center detachment (FIWC), a Naval Beach Group detachment (NBG-2), a Search and Rescue detachment (HC SAR), an Explosive Ordinance Disposal detachment (EOD), a Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON), and a Naval Special Warfare Task Unit (NSWTU). All elements come together for six months of training then deploy for six months as a forward-deployed, self-sustaining Amphibious Task Force.
Essex (LHD 2) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) returned home in April 1995 after completing its first overseas deployment and overseeing the final withdrawal of United Nations peacekeepers from Somalia. Essex's western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf deployment began Oct. 25, 1994, and the ship served as the flagship for the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) under the command of Commodore Gary W. Stubbs, commander, Amphibious Squadron 5. The other ships in the Essex ARG were the amphibious transport dock USS Ogden (LPD 5) and the landing ship dock USS Fort Fisher (LSD 40). Marines embarked in the ARG were from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)(MEU(SOC)), consisting of Battalion Landing Team 3/1, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 161 (reinforced) and MEU Service Support Group 13.
In late 1996 the USS Kitty Hawk Battle Group and the USS Essex ARG were forward deployed to a variety of regions for six months, including the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and the Arabian Gulf. While deployed, they conducted multi-national operations, demonstrated operational primacy over the full spectrum of maritime warfighting operations, tested new technologies at sea and extended U.S. goodwill and ambassadorship with various nations. Rim-of-the-Pacific 1996 (RIMPAC 96) is a biennial exercise designed to enhance interoperability and proficiency of multinational and bilateral forces operating in response to short-notice littoral missions. The USS Essex ARG spent several months operating and training in the Arabian Gulf and conducting port visits in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Australia. USS Essex, USS Cleveland and USS Harpers Ferry participated in the Seventh Fleet exercise Tandem Thrust 97, a combined and joint exercise between the U.S. and Australian armed forces at the Shoal Water Bay training area in Queensland, Australia. More than 28 ships and 1200 Marines - including the Independence (CV 62) and Kitty Hawk (CV 63) carrier battle groups, the Essex (LHD 2) amphibious ready group with the 11th MEU(SOC) embarked, and U.S. Coast Guard vessels - participated in RIMPAC 96. The Amphibious ships USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Cleveland (LPD 7) and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) arrived in San Diego 10 April 1997.
The future battlegrounds of the world will require U.S. forces to be prepared for a variety of missions including humanitarian operations, disaster relief and urban security. Amphibious Squadron FIVE is focused on the training needed for these missions, ensuring success is always the outcome. In a quest to test their ability to operate in the littoral and project combat power ashore, Commander Amphibious Squadron Five (COM PHIBRON FIVE), led by Commodore W.C. Marsh embarked aboard USS CORONADO (AGF 11) participated in Kernel Blitz, the largest amphibious exercise held on the West Coast. Kernel Blitz was a three phase exercise in 1999. The first Phase included two major experiments, "Fleet Battle Experiment ECHO" held concurrently with the Marine Corps' Advanced Warfighting Experiment "Urban Warrior" during March in the San Francisco bay area.
Naval Amphibious ships participating included USS BONHOMME RICHARD (LHD 6), USS PEARL HARBOR (LSD 52), USS PORT ROYAL (CG 73) and USS JOHN PAUL JONES (DDG 53). Both exercises tested the ship's and crew's ability to support major amphibious operations. Operating together for the first time, the staff from COMPHIBRON FIVE, along with USS BONHOMME RICHARD and USS PEARL HARBOR, executed each facet of amphibious operations successfully. An advanced concept technology demonstration took place during the second phase of Kernel Blitz. Focusing on extending the littoral battlespace, the exercise was appropriately named "Littoral Lightning." The demonstration examined the enhanced integrated command and control, fire support and targeting capabilities of the Navy/Marine Corp team. Despite no actual amphibious landing, the coordination and movement of Naval amphibious assets were crucial in support of the exercise.
The technologies being tested throughout Kernel Blitz will provide the Navy/Marine Corp team the opportunity to examine revolutionary Naval warfare concepts. The ultimate goal of these tests is to equip U.S. forces with timely, precision information in order to make them better decision-makers, resulting in improved courses of action and ultimately success. The amphibious operations in support of Kernel Blitz Phase I went extremely well. It was very impressive considering the units had not operated with each other prior to the exercise.
A trio of San Diego-based warships comprising the Tarawa Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) sailed from the Naval Station 14 August 2000 beginning a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean. The ARG was also scheduled for a tour of duty in the Arabian Gulf. Led by Capt. A.D. Wall, commander, Amphibious Squadron Five, The three-ship ARG has nearly 2,000 Sailors aboard USS Tarawa (LHA 1), USS Anchorage (LSD 36) and USS Duluth (LPD 6). The ships carry approximately 2,200 Marines from the Camp Pendleton-based 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable). Tarawa ARG also has multiple aircraft: Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier attack jets, Marine CH-53E Super Stallion heavy lift helicopters, Navy and Marine CH-46 Sea Knight medium lift helicopters, Marine AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters and Marine UH-1N Huey multi-purpose helicopters. LCU 1632 and 1666 began a six-month deployment 14 August 2000 with the USS TARAWA (LHA 1) Amphibious Ready Group, Amphibious Squadron FIVE, and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. LCU 1632 and 1666 returned from a six-month deployment on 13 February 2001.
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