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Tortuga Sailors Make 'Blue-Green' Training a Success

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070305-04
Release Date: 3/5/2007 3:50:00 PM

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

USS TORTUGA, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Tortuga (LSD 46) and Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed a set of work-ups that culminated in Amphibious Ready Group Exercise (ARGEX) and Evaluation Exercise (EVALEX) 07-1 in the vicinity of White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, in late February.

The training, which is required to ensure that the MEU and the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ESXARG) are capable of completing any mission during the upcoming spring patrol. Training consisted of numerous landing craft air cushion (LCAC) and small boat operations, along with other drills and qualifications.

“Hard work and cooperation from both the Blue and Green sides played a vital part for the overall success of this year's Blue-Green operations,” said Tortuga Commanding Officer Cmdr. Todd A. Lewis. “Helping the Marines through their evaluation process so they can deploy as a maritime contingency force is both an educational and rewarding experience for our Sailors. Whatever we can do to assist our Marines with their training is our pleasure.”

This training is designed to give the Blue-Green team a chance to practice interoperability while conducting and planning multiple operations. Sailors and Marines were also allowed the opportunity for day and night deck landing qualifications (DLQs), as well as numerous other certifications needed for the ESXARG’s spring patrol.

“The Blue-Green training was very important to both the Sailors and Marines of all ranks,” said Marine Gunnery Sgt. Daniel T. Hitzhusen, of the 31st MEU. “Future coordination of the Blue-Green units would not be possible without this type of training.”

Junior Tortuga Sailors received valuable on-the-job training while working alongside more experienced members of Tortuga's flight deck crew and LCAC crews to increase their proficiency and ensure proper and safe deliveries of Marines and their equipment.

“When I came into the Navy I never thought this would be the kind of work I would be doing,” said Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class Mark D. Phillips. “Getting to work with Marines during this training operation and being part of the fire party team on the flight deck during flight qualifications has been exciting.”

Tortuga Sailors have worked closely with not only their MEU counterparts, but also the other ships of the ESXARG. The training is a normal part of the ESXARG's training cycle and is conducted twice a year.

“The Navy-Marine Corps relationship is unique and is not replicated by any other two services. The Marine Corps is [a] department of the Navy, therefore, our relationship with them is unlike the working relationship between other services,” said Lewis. “We truly are, as our motto states, ‘One Team, One Fight.'”

Tortuga is an amphibious 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, Japan. The 31st MEU is permanently forward-deployed from Okinawa, Japan.

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