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Fleet Survey Team Clears the Water for Boxer During Continuing Promise Mission

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080606-15
Release Date: 6/6/2008 1:54:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Brian Gaines, USS Boxer Public Affairs

USS BOXER, At Sea (NNS) -- The Expeditionary Survey Division of the Fleet Survey Team from the Naval Oceanographic Office, embarked aboard USS Boxer (LHD 4), departed the ship for shore sites in Peru, June 6, to survey beach landing zones for the movement of personnel and supplies in support of Continuing Promise (CP) 2008.

CP is an equal partnership mission designed to combine partner nation and U.S. relief capabilities to demonstrate the lasting bonds and shared interests among neighbors.

The team generally departs Boxer up to 72 hours before amphibious operations are scheduled to take place. Data such as surf index, shallow water bathymetry and underwater hazards like shoals, sandbars and shipwrecks allow the landing teams to make informed decisions regarding the time and location to move supplies and personnel from ship to shore.

"The Fleet Survey Team is a rapid-response command capable of providing timely, self-contained [water] surveys in response to the combatant commanders' requests," said Cmdr. Brian Connon, the Fleet Survey Team's commanding officer. "These requests are for areas where Navy operations will take place or where charting accuracy is uncertain."

The team regularly uses personal watercraft to reach the proposed locations and often stays on-site to assess the likelihood of making a successful landing.

"We are filling a vital role by coordinating with [Amphibious Squadron 5] to make the landing possible," said Lt. Steve McIntyre, CP's lead aerographer. "This is what we call environmental preparation of the battle space, and it includes surf observations as well as topography of the shore and real time sonar imaging. These factors are what determine whether or not the landing craft will make it to the shore safely."

The survey team's research proved invaluable to amphibious operations as Boxer was preparing to send personnel ashore in El Salvador.

"In El Salvador, we observed erratic surf with waves ranging from 8-10 feet," said Aerographer's Mate 1st Class (AW) Doug Wakeman. "We also discovered an uncharted shipwreck just off the shore that could have proved hazardous to the landing craft."

The Fleet Survey Team was formed in 2006 and is part of the Navy Oceanographic Office, based at Stennis Space Center, Miss. The team enables combatant commanders with access to the shore through expeditionary water surveys, better known as hydrography. When forces are armed with detailed descriptions of the environmental conditions they could face, operations have a greater chance of being safely and efficiently executed.

The team has played vital roles in charting areas affected by natural disasters such as the south Asia tsunami of 2004 and hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf of Mexico.

For more news from USS Boxer, visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd4/.

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