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Kearsarge ESG Begins COMPTUEX

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070521-20
Release Date: 5/21/2007 4:35:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Patrick Gearhiser, USS Kearsarge Public Affairs

USS KEARSARGE, At Sea (NNS) -- The Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) began their Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) May 14.

COMPTUEX is a pre-deployment certification that prepares an ESG for overseas deployment. The exercise consists of multiple scenarios conducted during a three-week time period.

“COMPTUEX is a stressful simulated combat environment that will pace the entire strike group across an entire spectrum of operations,” said Commodore Robert Bougher, Kearsarge Strike Group commander. “It allows the strike group to develop pre-planned responses, a way of thinking about combat operations, and build the synergy required for victory in a combat environment.”

Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked aboard Kearsarge are working side-by-side with Sailors to form unit cohesiveness and forge the bond between a “blue and green” team.

“We brought 900 Marines, the entire MEU consists of around 2,100 Marines on three ships: Kearsarge, USS Ponce (LPD 15) and USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44),” said Bougher.

Sailors and Marines aboard Kearsarge are preparing for the drills and exercises of COMPTUEX designed to push the crew through the challenges of actual combat.

“The exercise is built up, initially, of individual exercises. It is then broken down by individual ships, warfare commanders such as air defense, anti-submarine and surface warfare, and that builds the operation tempo up to a combat problem,” said Bougher.

The crew itself will also have to adapt to new circumstances with the added pressure of COMPTUEX and the arrival of the 22nd MEU.

“I think the biggest part as far as the crew is concerned has been the large influx of people,” said Kearsarge Command Master Chief (SW) Kenneth Delaruelle. “We have more than doubled the size of our crew which poses some challenges, such as the chow lines, training the Marines on when, where and how to wear the proper protective gear, and getting used to cleaning the ship at specific times of the day. The integration has been very positive to date, and I expect that to continue as we build our blue-green team.”

Each of the departments aboard Kearsarge has been preparing for COMPTUEX and feels they are ready to undergo the test.

“AIMD (Air Intermediate Maintenance Department) is fully prepared to get through the evaluations and have a successful deployment,” said Chief Aviations Electronics Technician Michael Oxendine. “We have many good Sailors and augmented Marines and we stand by to make this a successful COMPTUEX.”

In preparation for COMPTUEX, Kearsarge took on more than 220 pallets of military equipment, supplies and food. Sailors worked long hours to ensure the ship was “ready for sea” and able to sustain life and mission readiness over the duration of the exercise.

“The onload is very teamwork intensive,” said Lt. Ignacio Valadez, Kearsarge’s safety officer. “Everyone has a part in the evolution from Supply Department to AIMD for the fork truck maintenance, to Weapons Department and Supply Department for driving the fork lifts and providing ramp guards for safety.”

Capt. James Gregorski, USS Kearsarge commanding officer, told the crew that the best can get better and welcomed the challenge.

Kearsarge ESG consists of the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge, elements of the 22nd MEU, based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., the amphibious transport dock Gunston Hall, the dock landing ship Ponce, the guided missile frigate USS Carr (FFG 52), the guided missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78), the guided missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69), and the nuclear fast-attack submarine USS Miami (SSN 755).

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