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Ponce Returns from CERTEX

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070629-14
Release Date: 6/29/2007 1:22:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Tristan Miller, Fleet Public Affairs Center Atlantic

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Amphibious transport dock ship USS Ponce (LPD 15) returned to Norfolk as Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) completed its certification training exercise (CERTEX), that took place from June 14-27.

Ponce serves as a forward staging base for the element of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, carrying additional fuel, supplies, ammunition, and communication capabilities.

“We’re here to support and protect the high value unit (USS Kearsarge), conduct maritime interdiction operations, and provide rescue and assistance support for other vessels,” said Lt. j.g. Christopher DiGiovanna, Deck Department division officer of Ponce.

CERTEX focuses largely on the integration and proficiency of amphibious assets deploying with the ESG.

“CERTEX is a large scale certification operation,” said Lt. j.g. Michael Genta, Ponce training officer. “It involves every ship in the strike group and all the elements of 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.”

USS Vicksburg (CG 69), USS Porter (DDG 78), and USS Carr (FFG 52) conducted air defense and gunfire exercises in support of the amphibious operations. Ponce, along with USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), performed various wet well operations involving landing craft utilities, amphibious assault vehicles, and landing craft air cushion operations.

“Upon completion of CERTEX, Ponce and the rest of the ESG will be fully certified, ready to handle all missions while on deployment in the near future,” said Genta.

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