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USS Juneau Embarks 31st MEU Marines

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070523-17
Release Date: 5/23/2007 6:09:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael D. Kennedy, Fleet Public Affair Center, Detachment Japan

OKINAWA, Japan (NNS) -- The Austin-class amphibious landing dock, USS Juneau (LPD 10), began onloading its share of the 2,200 Marines that make up the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa May 22.

Juneau, along with the rest of the Essex Expeditionary Strike Group and the Marines from the 31st MEU, the Marine Corps’s only permanently forward-deployed MEU, will participate in Talisman Saber 07.

Talisman Saber, jointly sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Command and Australian Defense Force Joint Operations Command, is designed to train the U.S. 7th Fleet commander's staff and the Australian Deployable Joint Force Headquarters staff as designated combined task force headquarters. The exercise will focus on crisis action planning and execution of contingency response operations.

Juneau loaded more than 500 Marines with the aid of Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5. They also loaded their humvee’s, armored assault vehicles (AAV) and the rest of the supplies and equipment needed by the 31st MEU, totaling more than 1,000 tons.

“We are here to support the needs of both the Marines and the Navy,” said Juneau’s Combat Cargo Officer, Marine Chief Warrant Officer 2 Clark Howard. “We are here to complete this [onload] as quickly and safely as possible. It takes the resources of the entire ship: air department, deck department, engineering; it’s basically an all hands effort. Teamwork is key if a crew of 396 is going to bring on 500 Marines and 1,000 tons of their gear.”

Gunnery Sgt. Edurado James of Fox Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, said that of his five deployments aboard Navy vessels, this has been the best concerning relationship and communication between the ship’s crew and the embarked Marines.

“This ship impresses you how involved they are with every thing that is going on,” James said. “The chiefs have gone out of there way for us and you can tell that the [commanding officer] and the [executive officer] really love having Marines on their ship.”

Executive Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Nate Moyer said he is very impressed with the progress of the embarkation.

“It motivates me to see the enthusiasm. Everyone is exceeding all my expectations. Not only the crew of Juneau, but ACU-5, [Commander Fleet Activities Okinawa] port operations, and the Army [505th Quartermaster Battalion] coming together and completing this onload 24 hours ahead of schedule. The sooner we finish the sooner they can concentrate on the rest of the strike group,” said Moyer.

Juneau is part of the Essex Expeditionary Strike Group, which serves under Commander, Task Force 76. Task Force 76 is the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force, headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

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