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Nassau Continues to be the Binding Force

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070420-13
Release Date: 4/20/2007 8:00:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Ardelle L. Purcell, USS Nassau Public Affairs

NAVAL BASE ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- USS Nassau (LHA 4) continued strengthening maritime partnerships when the ship sponsored an Amphibious Air Traffic Control Center Pilot Brief (AATCC), April 11 for the 11 countries participating in exercise Phoenix Express 2007.

Phoenix Express 2007 is a two-week long multinational exercise designed to strengthen regional maritime partnerships focused on developing increased maritime domain awareness, better information sharing practices and the ability to operate jointly.

“Most often these types of multinational exercises prove we have more in common as people than our history speaks of,” said Marine Maj. Bruce K. Brahe, Nassau’s air operations officer. “These exercises are important and they build friendships. We don’t focus on the differences, but we focus on what brings us together.”

The AATCC brief was an orientation to familiarize the foreign countries with aircraft operating procedures aboard a U.S. naval vessel.

“The brief was for the pilots and the maintenance crews,” said Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Carl Proffen, the assistant leading petty officer for Nassau’s air traffic control center. “They received information on flight deck procedures and safety, approaches and landing, a flight deck familiarization tour and the maintenance crews learned how to support their aircraft aboard ship.”

With four or five different pilots from each country scheduled to gain experience doing vertical replenishments, precision instrument approaches, day and night deck landings and medical evacuation procedures during the underway portion of Phoenix Express on Nassau’s flight deck, some pilots had a few questions.

“Their biggest concern was how the ship is going to accommodate the winds and the wind parameters for their aircraft,” said Proffen. “We do things differently from these nations and they had concerns with learning the new procedures and how it would affect the landing of their aircraft or how the ship would maneuver to catch the aircraft,” he said.

“Who has landed on an [amphibious assault ship] before?” asked Cmdr. Leonard Loughran, Nassau’s air boss. “It’s not as scary as it looks.”

Loughran controls the central air space within a five mile radius of Nassau when conducting flight operations.

“My responsibility is to ensure the safe, orderly flow of airplanes within my air space and to get them safely onto my flight deck,” he said.

Spain and Morocco will each embark aircraft aboard Nassau, while other countries will fly to Nassau for the daily underway flight operations. According to Brahe, this opportunity is about more than just the hours the pilots can log in the seats of the aircraft.

“It’s about the relationships formed, and the experienced gained by them [the pilots] operating on a ship of this magnitude,” said Brahe. “Simple evolutions such as refueling an aircraft while it is on deck are valuable learning experiences for all countries involved, ours and theirs.

"We strengthen ties and everyone benefits from just working together.”

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