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AAV Training Hones Proficiency, Integration During ESGINT

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071002-11
Release Date: 10/2/2007 4:34:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Mandy Hunsucker, Nassau Strike Group Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The Nassau Strike Group (NASSG) and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24 MEU) participated in amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) training aboard USS Nashville (LPD 13) and the beaches surrounding Onslow Bay, N.C., Sept. 30.

The AAV training was part of NASSG’s Expeditionary Strike Group integration exercise (ESGINT) which began on Sept. 24.

ESGINT is the second of three pre-deployment exercises designed to test fundamental capabilities and shipboard interoperability between the strike group vessels and the 24 MEU in preparation for the role the Nassau Strike Group will play in promoting stability and security around the world.

Six of the seven ships assigned to the NASSG, to include Nashville, USS Nassau (LHA 4), USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and USS Albany (SSN 753), participated in the training evolution. During ESGINT, the strike group looked to improve each ship’s proficiency in ship-to-shore operations, amphibious assault vehicle and helicopter training, and improve the integration of the strike group with the 24 MEU.

Lt.j.g. Brandon Rakestraw, Nassau Strike Group ship-to-shore officer, explained why the training is important to the strike group.

“Movement of vehicles on and off of Navy craft is guaranteed to happen in real world operations,” said Rakestraw. “Mastery of this skill set is critical to moving Marines and their associated equipment on and off of Navy ships safely and efficiently.”

The training allowed Sailors and Marines a chance to integrate, exercise and enhance their ability to operate landing craft utility (LCU) and landing craft air cushion (LCAC) vessels on and off of Navy ships. In addition, the training also provided an opportunity to sustain combat readiness.

Chief Engineman (SW) David Hendricks who has overseen AAV training for two years said the best way to train is to put the Sailors and Marines in life-like events.

“One of the most important things the Marines and Navy need to learn during this exercise are the hand signs,” said Hendricks. "That way we can all communicate with each other no matter which branch of service."

Learning to drive an AAV is not only important, but also fun according to Marine Cpl. Robert Harrel.

“This training was a lot of fun because of all the things we got to do. We've learned a lot from the shipboard driver training and how to gripe down vehicles on the LCU and LCAC," said Harrel. "This training is important to our mission because we'll be able to load and unload vehicles faster and more efficiently."

The AAV's were provided by Assault Craft Units 2 and 4, based out of Little Creek Amphibious Base in Va.

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 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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