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ESG 1 Transits Suez Canal, Ready for "Bright Star"

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050912-03
Release Date: 9/12/2005 10:08:00 AM

By Lt. Ron Flanders, ESG 1 Public Affairs

ABOARD USS TARAWA, Mediterranean Sea (NNS) -- Four ships and more than 4,000 Sailors and Marines of Expeditionary Strike Group 1 passed through the Suez Canal Sept. 9.

ESG 1 conducted the northbound transit through the vital chokepoint en route to the Mediterranean coast of Egypt to participate in the multinational exercise Bright Star 2005.

The strike group’s flagship, USS Tarawa (LHA 1), the amphibious transport dock USS Cleveland (LPD 7), the dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and the frigate USS Ingraham (FFG 61) made the transit with 2,200 combat-ready Marines of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) embarked aboard.

The passage through the Suez was an historic event for the four ships, which are all West Coast-homeported ships. Nearly 22 years to the day that Tarawa became the first West Coast-homeported ship to go through the canal (Sept. 10, 1983), “Big T” punctuated her 13th Western Pacific deployment with her second Suez transit. For ESG 1 Sailors and Marines, it was an exciting experience.

“I thought I would have to be stationed on an East Coast ship to go through the Suez,” said Quartermaster 2nd Class John Sullivan, of Tarawa. “I would say it is close to the top of my list of great experiences during my enlistment,” he added.

For those Sailors and Marines whose jobs had them topside to view the 100-mile passage, there was a lot to see. Much of the canal is just 60 meters wide, so a Sailor could look port to starboard and see part of Egypt.

“I enjoyed the chance to see all of the cities on either side of the canal,” said Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Jonathan Johnston, whose “snoopy team” watchstanding duties gave him a bird’s eye view from Tarawa’s 08 Level during the trip. “The mosque was the best sight to see,” Johnston added.

Upon exiting the canal, ESG 1 steamed toward its next training exercise, Bright Star 2005. Bright Star is the largest multinational exercise of its kind in the world and is held every two years.

In addition to ESG 1 and the host Egyptian navy and marines, maritime forces from Pakistan, Greece, Germany, and Italy will be participating. In addition to those nations, ground forces from Jordan, Kuwait, the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia will conduct maneuvers.

The exercise runs from Sept. 11-27, and includes integrated training on amphibious landing operations, noncombatant evacuation operations, naval gunnery and maritime security operations.

“We look forward to training with our key allies in Bright Star,” said Rear Adm. Michael LeFever, commander, ESG 1. “We’re excited to be in this vital part of the world and participating in this exercise. We look forward to making new friends and, more importantly, working with the very professional land and sea forces in this coalition.”

Expeditionary Strike Group 1 is an adaptive, lethal and agile force consisting of more than 5,500 Sailors and Marines embarked aboard six ships and a submarine. ESG 1 can conduct operations across the spectrum of warfare or humanitarian operations.

ESG 1 is on a regularly scheduled deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to conduct maritime security operations.

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