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USS Nashville Hosts Ship-to-Shore Operations Exercise

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071001-22
Release Date: 10/1/2007 5:39:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Shonn Moore, USS Nashville Public Affairs

USS NASHVILLE, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard USS Nashville (LPD 13), assigned to the Nassau Strike Group (NASSG), successfully played out their ship-to-shore operations duty Sept. 25 as part of Exercise Expeditionary Strike Group Integration exercise (ESGINT) while operating in Onslow Bay, N.C.

ESGINT is the second of three pre-deployment exercises designed to test the fundamental capabilities and shipboard interoperability between the strike group vessels and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24 MEU), in preparation for NASSG's deployment next year.

Six of the seven ships assigned to the NASSG, to include USS Nassau (LHA 4), Nashville, USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and USS Albany (SSN 753), participated in the important pre-deployment training evolution. ESGINT includes evaluations of a series of complex and coordinated training events integrating the different units of the NASSG, and is the first time some of these units have worked together.

Sailors and Marines from the amphibious transport dock Nashville; landing craft utilities (LCU) 1659, 1660 and 1661 from Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2; Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base; and landing craft air cushioned (LCAC) from ACU 4, Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base participated in the ship-to-shore exercise.

Chief Boatswain's Mate Wayne Mills, the craft master and enlisted captain of LCU 1660, said it is important to conduct these exercise to train his crew in a realistic, life-like safe environment.

“We participate in this type of exercise to ensure that my crew (LCU 1660) is prepared to respond when it’s time to transport equipment and items that are needed by the Sailors and Marines during their deployment next year,” Mills said. “It takes a lot of practice and training to carry out these drills.”

Launching from Onslow Bay, the LCUs carried humvees, fork trucks, small arms ammunition, vehicles, and other Marine supplies and traveled three miles to transport these supplies aboard the wet-well of Nashville.

Despite the slow operations, Mills said his 12-man crew demonstrated a will and determination to carry out its mission.

“We arrived later than we had anticipated [aboard USS Nashville],” Mills said. “I have 18 and 19-year-old Sailors who have never done this before, and they are learning new techniques, and this is a very good practice for them. They will get better in no time.”

Boatswain's mates and engineers aboard Nashville provided operational support ensuring that the conventional crafts arrived safely on the ship’s wet well.

“The more training we do, the better we get,” added Lt. j.g. David Williams, Nashville's boatswain. “We want to get the Sailors and Marines in the same phase before they go on their deployment.”

Nashville is currently serving as the central control ship during a 12-day operation off Onslow Bay in support of the NASSG’s ESGINT exercise.

NASSG is currently preparing for its regularly scheduled 2008 deployment. Made up of more than 5,000 Sailors and Marines, the strike group will project 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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