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Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group Departs 5th Fleet

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071010-21
Release Date: 10/10/2007 4:27:00 PM

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Ray Mooney, USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs

USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- The Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHRESG) departed the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations Oct. 7.

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) (BHR), USS Denver (LPD 9), USS Rushmore (LSD 47) and embarked units participated in Maritime Security Operations (MSO) while in the Persian Gulf for more than four months.

MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

“Our role here was to help lend security to the region,” said Capt. Bradley Martin, the commander of BHRESG. “Whether it was deterring piracy or smuggling by our presence, or training with our Coalition partners, I believe our Sailors and Marines contributed significantly to the free and unhindered use of the seas here in the Gulf.”

BHRESG units conducted various operations in the Gulf, including Interaction Patrols (IPATS). IPATS are an element of MSO, which help generate support and awareness amongst commercial vessels sailing in the region of the Coalition’s effort to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment.

BHRESG also practiced crisis response contingencies to be able to respond to humanitarian missions and trained with Coalition partners to share and sharpen boarding techniques.

“It’s a tribute to the versatility of our Sailors and Marines that we were able to perform such a variety of missions while we were here,” said Martin. “We are first and foremost a fighting force, but we also have a responsibility to ensure peace and do all we can to provide assistance in times of need.”

The Marines of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), embarked with BHRESG, spent nearly four months conducting ground combat counter-insurgency operations in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

“We successfully accomplished all missions assigned to us, contributing significantly to the decreasing levels of violence in Kharmah, Fallujah and Ramadi, and the improving security situation in Baghdad,” said Lt. Col. Justice Chambers, 13th MEU (SOC) operations officer.

During the ESG’s time in the Gulf, U.S. and U.K. forces combined to practice mine countermeasures; Rushmore provided logistics and force protection in support of divers surveying the ocean floor near Iraqi oil platforms; and Denver provided medical aid to several injured merchant seaman.

“It’s a constant vigil for us,” Martin said. “We take advantage of the opportunity to train with coalition partners at every opportunity, but we also remain constantly watchful for any situation that may require our assistance or intervention. We’re here to make a difference and that’s what we’ve done.”

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