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Blue-Green Training Tests Forward-Deployed Amphibious Ship

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070204-03
Release Date: 2/4/2007 3:29:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brandon A. Myrick,USS Tortuga Public Affairs

USS TORTUGA, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Tortuga (LSD 46) pulled into White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa on Jan. 31 to begin its Blue-Green workups, the semi-annual joint exercise between the ship and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

The workups, also known as Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) Exercise (ARGEX), give Sailors and Marines a chance to refresh their knowledge about each other’s capabilities in preparation for operations as one unit.

During the training set, which will lead into a final evaluation exercise (EVAL-EX), Sailors and Marines will train together to be ready for any tasking from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to full-scale combat operations.

“Blue-Green workups give the crew a chance to work with the Marines, so we can learn and improve upon how the two forces operate,” said Tortuga’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Todd A. Lewis. “It is important to stay well trained and be prepared for any situation.

“It is also an opportunity for Marines to get used to life on a ship and how to react to emergencies,” Lewis added.

Blue-Green workups are a normal part of the ARGs’ training cycle and are conducted twice a year.

A key aspect of the workups is for Tortuga Sailors to re-familiarize themselves with the various amphibious warfare platforms, such as landing craft air cushioned (LCAC), landing cCraft utility (LCU), the launch and recovery of amphibious assault vehicles and a variety of other smaller craft evolutions.

“Training with the Marines for Blue-Greens allows them, as a unit and us as a crew, to do what we were put here to do as an amphibious platform,” said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 3rd Class Jacob Evans. “Our main mission is to put Marines on a beach and it is always important to have a well trained and well coordinated crew.”

Blue-Greens provide many evolutions where Sailors and Marines are working together.

“I think it is great how we really come together as a team and work together,” said Pfc. Michael Corns, one of the embarked Marines of the 31st MEU. “A lot of us have never worked with Sailors other than the corpsmen that go into the field, so it’s great for the Marines to get to see how the rest of the Navy operates.

Tortuga Sailors will have to work closely with not only their MEU counterparts, but also the other ships of the Essex ARG. Each ship’s operations specialists coordinate the movement of amphibious vehicles -- as well as helicopters -- between the ships and the beach to help strengthen ship-to-ship evolutions.

The ARG’s primary mission of warfighting through amphibious operations receives most of the spotlight during the three-week exercise, but there is also a focus on the ARG’s other capabilities, such as humanitarian missions.

“It is always important for us to be well trained in these operations,” said Lewis. “By treating these training cycles as if they were the real thing, we will prepare us for real-world situations.”

Tortuga is a dock landing ship serving under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force 76, the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force. ESG 7/Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo.

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