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Essex Onloads During Foal Eagle '07

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070326-12
Release Date: 3/26/2007 5:19:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Corey Truax and Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jhoan M. Montolio, Commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. 7th Fleet

USS ESSEX, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Essex (LHD 2) successfully onloaded utility landing craft (LCU) and personnel while underway March 22 during Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration and Foal Eagle (RSOI/FE) 07.

The two annually scheduled combined/joint exercises involve forces from the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) and demonstrates U.S. commitment to the Republic of Korea/U.S. alliance and enhances combat readiness of the countries supporting forces through combined and joint training.

For the exercises, Essex brought aboard LCU 1631 and LCU 1627 by setting condition 1A, an amphibious operations procedure that, when set, fills the well deck with water and lowers the stern gate door below sea level, allowing the LCU to safely enter into Essex’s well deck.

“We conduct amphibious operations like this all the time,” said Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class (SW/AW) Johan M. Zorrilla, the well deck control officer during the onload of the LCU. “We’re more than ready for this.”

LCUs deploy from Essex’s well deck, provide transport, and beach assault capabilities to embarked forces that will be relied on heavily during RSOI/FE 07.

“Our ship’s mission is the movement of troops and equipment from ship to shore,” said Chief Quartermaster (SW) Brian McDay, LCU 1631 craft master.

That kind of maneuver is typical for an exercise like RSOI/FE 07, which is designed to enhance readiness and the ability to defend the Republic of Korea (ROK) against external aggression.

“I was [here] for Foal Eagle 2006 and it went smoothly, I expect the same this time,” said Quartermaster 1st Class (SW) Daniel King, the LCU 1631 navigator.

LCUs have 1,850 square feet of deck area and can carry 125 tons of cargo, trucks and tanks, or 400 Marines.

Essex is the only forward-deployed amphibious assault ship and serves Task Force 76, the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

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