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Nassau Strike Group Completes TCAT Underway

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070905-14
Release Date: 9/5/2007 4:04:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Coleman Thompson, Expeditionary Strike Group 8 Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The Nassau Strike Group successfully completed its Tactical Commander Amphibious Training (TCAT) on Aug. 31 off the Atlantic Coast.

TCAT, the first in a series of preparatory underway periods that certifies the strike group for deployment, focuses on honing the ship’s proficiency in ship-to-shore operations, to include amphibious assault vehicle and helicopter training, as well as strike group integration with the Marine Corps’ 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

“It is important for us to integrate with the MEU as early as we can so that we can strengthen the Navy and Marine Corps team,” said Lt. Dave Pedersen, Nassau Strike Group plans and future operations officer. “We start building these relationships now because the better our relationship is, the better our Sailors and Marines are able to perform.”

“Since this was our first time operating together, we maintained a ‘crawl-walk-run’ approach throughout the week,” said Capt. Robert Lineberry, commander, Nassau Strike Group. “Overall the Blue/Green team performed flawlessly during this first at-sea period.”

“For a lot of these Sailors, this is the first time seeing Marines and Marine equipment on board an amphibious ship like this,” said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Anthony Bargallo. “It has been an experience, especially in the well deck and on the flight deck.”

During TCAT’s amphibious training portion, Nassau launched numerous amphibious assault vehicles, or AAV’s, which transited between her and the other strike group amphibious ships that also set sail, USS Ashland (LSD 48) and USS Nashville (LPD 13).

“We put more AAV’s in the water than any of us have ever seen,” said Pedersen. “We’ve had over 30 AAV’s going to Ashland and over 20 AAV’s going to Nashville concurrently. This is all basic level stuff; this isn’t raiding the beaches of Normandy, but there’s a lot of repetition, repetition, repetition.”

During TCAT, the Air Combat Element from the 24th MEU also conducted several training flight scenarios as they received their deck landing qualifications (DLQ’s). For some, this was their first time landing on a Navy ship.

“The flight deck is always busy,” said Bargallo. “We’ve got the pilots of the Air Combat Element doing their DLQ’s, which means they’re getting their first time landing in a tight space. Most of these guys have come from the desert.”

While the strike group faced many of the challenges one would expect when coming together for the first time, Lineberry felt that the overall period was indeed successful.

“The Navy and Marine Corps team safely demonstrated a full range of Naval missions capable of assuring our allies and friends of our strength and commitment,” said Lineberry.

The Nassau Strike Group is currently preparing for its regularly scheduled 2008 deployment. Made up of more than 5,000 Sailors and Marines, the strike group projects sea power ashore by maintaining the capability of landing amphibious forces by helicopters, amphibious track vehicles, air cushion landing craft, and assault craft whenever and wherever the need arises.

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