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LCUs Support ESG 8 During CERTEX

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051006-12
Release Date: 10/6/2005 3:26:00 PM

By Lt. Lesley Lykins, USS Nassau Strike Group Public Affairs

ABOARD USS NASSAU, At Sea (NNS) -- Utility Landing Craft (LCU) 1663 crew members served a vital role to Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 8 Oct. 1 during the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) certification exercise (CERTEX).

ESG 8, operating off the coast of North Carolina, tasked the LCUs with missions ranging from transporting Marines and equipment ashore to moving people from one ship to another.

“Whenever the detachment is called upon, we complete the mission we are tasked to do,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate (SW) John Des Champs, craft master of LCU 1663. “We can be away from the ship for 10 days, and we carry our own provisions on board.”

The LCUs work closely with the Marines. Des Champs said he appreciates the good working rapport they have built with each other.

“These work-ups help us build a relationship with the Marines," he said. "It offers their drivers and our crew opportunities to practice onloading and offloading equipment.”

“We can carry anything from tanks down to Humvees with trailers,” said Des Champs.

LCUs also carry their own culinary specialists to prepare meals for the small crew.

“This is a way to build experience," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW) James Ewing. "I get a lot of feedback from the crew on what they prefer."

The LCU crews, supervised by a chief petty officer, are a combination of one engineman, a culinary specialist, a quartermaster, electrician’s mate, boatswain’s mate, and a few seamen or firemen. With such a small crew, each person carries a great deal of responsibility.

“We have superb crews, and the Sailors know how well they have it and put out the extra effort to make things perfect,” said Des Champs.

The chief engineer aboard LCU 1663 is Engineman 1st Class (SW) Kenneth Glenn.

“My friends that were already stationed aboard LCUs described the great morale and atmosphere," he said. "I have found that it is definitely a tight community, and we all work together.”

Each crew member aboard LCU 1663 has worked long hours in support of this exercise.

“The LCUs enabled the MEU to complete its mission,” said Lt. Dave Tarwater, officer in charge of Naval Beach Group 2 Det. Delta.

ESG 8 will use the supported/supporting relationship between the Navy and Marine commanders during the upcoming deployment.

The ESG composition adds to the combat-proven Amphibious Readiness Group and Marine Expeditionary Unit capabilities with increased defenses, strike capability, power projection capability, and a range of unique combined capabilities. These capabilities give the combat commander a wide variety of options and enables sustained independent operations in dynamic environments.

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