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USS Essex ARG Changes Flagships, Demonstrates Interoperability

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS041209-06
Release Date: 12/9/2004 1:23:00 PM

From Commander, Amphibious Group 1 Public Affairs

ABOARD USS ESSEX, At Sea (NNS) -- Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11 changed their flagship from USS Essex (LHD 2) to USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and back, Nov. 22 to Dec. 2, allowing Essex to conduct a 10-day port visit and transit to Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates.

PHIBRON 11 staff exercises command and control of Maritime Interception Operations (MIO) and Maritime Security Operations (MSO), including protection of Al Basrah Oil Terminal (ABOT) and Khawr Al Amaya Oil Terminal (KAAOT) in the Persian Gulf.

"The transfer of flagship duties from Essex to Harpers Ferry went very smooth," said Lt. Greg Baker, PHIBRON 11 logistics officer. "The challenge was maintaining the connectivity and overall situational awareness during the transition from Essex to Harpers Ferry and back."

The PHIBRON 11 staff resumed MIO and MSO operations in the Gulf aboard Essex Dec. 3.

"This clearly demonstrates not only the flexibility and adaptability of the ships in the Essex Expeditionary Strike Group, but also speaks volumes about the high caliber of Sailors and Marines we have in the forward deployed naval force that made this happen without missing a step," said Capt. Mark Donahue, commander, PHIBRON 11.

Harpers Ferry Commanding Officer Cmdr. Burt Quintanilla II said that his ship was more than ready to take on the added responsibilities of being the flagship.

"As the Afloat Forward Staging Base in the NAG (North Arabian Gulf), we are the combat logistic hub for local forces, both afloat and embarked," he said. "The Harpers Ferry was ideal to serve as the flagship while the Essex made its port visit."

Commander, Amphibious Squadron 11, along with Essex, Harpers Ferry, and USS Juneau (LDP 10), are homeported in Sasebo, Japan, and are part of Essex Amphibious Ready Group, operating in the Gulf along with other coalition forces in support of the sovereign government of Iraq.



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