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Bonhomme Richard LCAC Brings Badly Needed Relief Ashore in Sumatra

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050110-10
Release Date: 1/10/2005 5:30:00 PM

By Chief Journalist Walter T. Ham IV, USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs

MEULABOH, Indonesia (NNS) -- Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) attached to USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) (BHR) were used for the first time Jan. 10 to deliver 34,000 pounds of aid ashore in the hard to reach, tsunami stricken town of Meulabah on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

This was the first time an LCAC was flown ashore in Indonesia during Operation Unified Assistance. The introduction of these high-speed, heavy-lift hovercraft considerably increases the Navy and Marine Corps team's ability to quickly move a vast amount of badly needed aid ashore.

Owned and operated by Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5, the LCAC carried pallets of water, rice and lumber right into a debris-strewn landing zone on what used to be beachfront property.

According to ACU 5 Craftmaster Master Chief Gas Turbine Systems Technician (SW/AW) Todd M. Cholger, who piloted the LCAC on this historic mission, landing among the debris on the beach was a challenge, but was not an insurmountable one.

"Our LCACs are designed to move various equipment and supplies to the beach from over the horizon at a high rate of speed," said Cholger, an 18-year Navy veteran from Warren, Mich. "This makes this LCAC the premier vehicle for Operation Unified Assistance in the area."

Bonhomme Richard is the Flagship of Expeditionary Strike Group 5, conducting humanitarian relief operations off the coast of Sumatra.

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