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Task Group 152 Enhances Regional Security and Stability

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070726-17
Release Date: 7/26/2007 11:58:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dustin Mapson and Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Emmanuel Rios, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/ Commander, U.S. Fifth Fleet Combined Maritime Forces

USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- Commander, Task Group (CTG) 152, currently commanded by Commander, Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHRESG) and Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 7, is conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the Persian Gulf.

Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HSC) 23, embarked aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), has increased the Task Group’s capabilities, allowing them to conduct airborne patrols and add another form of deterrence to piracy and crime at sea, said Lt. David Owens, a helicopter pilot with HSC-23.

“Seeing us flying around makes commercial mariners in the region feel safe,” said Owens. “They know that if we are in the area and they have a problem, we are here to help.”

Recently, USS Denver (LPD 9), part of the BHRESG, responded to an assistance call from commercial vessel after one of the vessel’s crew members was critically injured in a fall. Denver medevaced the injured mariner to a hospital in the region for further treatment.

According to CTG 152 Planner Lt. Cmdr. Sean Hixson, surface assets such as the ESG’s landing craft air cushion (LCAC) and landing craft utility (LCU) allow the task group commander to increase the Coalition’s influence with other surface vessels operating in the area.

“The amphibious ships themselves are a big deterrence to anybody with bad intentions,” said Hixson. “Take that and add five LCACs and an LCU to the equation, and we significantly increase our presence in the area, thus increasing our opportunity for personal interaction.”

Hixson said boarding teams from USS Rushmore (LSD 47), Denver and other coalition assets assigned to CTG 152 conducted Interaction Patrols (IPATS) to the local mariners. IPATS are an element of MSO which help generate support and awareness amongst commercial vessels sailing in the region of the Coalition’s efforts to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment.

“We are showing them that we are here to help, and if they are in need, they can trust the Coalition forces to come to their aid,” said Hixson.

Hixson also said CTG 152’s reach extends to port visits, too.

“Every time our Sailors go ashore, we are taking part in what we call ‘Liberty as a Mission,’” said Hixson. “This allows our Sailors to get out into the communities we visit and positively represent America.”

While in port, many Sailors participate in community relations (COMREL) projects organized through local civic organizations.

“Through these COMREL projects, Sailors get to interact with the local community, help a good cause and show that we are good people who are willing and able to help,” said Hixson.

Through the myriad elements of MSO, CTG 152 and the BHRESG have made an impact in the area of operations, said Commander, BHRESG, Capt. Bradley D. Martin.

“The flexibility of our coalition force operating in the region has greatly increased our ability to positively impact the area stretching from the North Arabian Gulf all the way down to the Strait of Hormuz,” said Martin. “Through effective blending of Coalition air assets and surface vessels and interaction between our Sailors and the local communities, we have enhanced the Coalition’s positive relationship and cooperation in the region.”

Martin said these relationships, created and maintained through MSO, will continue to help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations. Coalition forces conduct MSO under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters so that all commercial shipping can operate freely while transiting the region.

“We are here to help create stability so that everyone from the local fisherman to those engaging in international trade feel safe while they go about their daily lives making a living,” said Martin. “Our ability stretches far beyond our warfare capabilities and has the opportunity to serve the needs of everyone who benefits from free and open use of the international waters of the Arabian Gulf.”

The Arabian Gulf is a body of water that is commonly known as the Persian Gulf.

The BHRESG consists of PHIBRON 7, Bonhomme Richard, Denver, USS Rushmore, USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), USS Chosin (CG 65), and 2,200 combat-ready Marines of the 13th MEU. BHRESG is operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations conducting MSO.

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