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Riverine Forces Make History with Well Deck Certification

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110603-01

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Michael R. Hinchcliffe, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors from Riverine Squadrons (RIVRON) 2 and 3 made history when they successfully completed the first well deck certification for the Riverine Command Boat (RCB) and Riverine Patrol Boat (RPB) aboard USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) May 31.

"What this proves is that, once and for all, we have the capability with the Riverine Command Boats and Riverine Patrol Boats to bring them on board the well deck of a ship," said Capt. Christopher Halton, commodore of Riverine Group 1. "With us being able to sustain operations out of the well deck, it opens up a variety of mission sets for the Riverines, from counter piracy missions, supporting amphibious operations or providing force protection for LCACs (Landing Craft, Air Cushioned) operating back and forth to the beach."

With completion of the well deck certification, the boats have the ability to deploy worldwide aboard an amphibious ship in support of the maritime strategy.

Amphibious operations reach across all six core capabilities of the maritime strategy which are forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

While Oak Hill was anchored in the Chesapeake Bay, the Riverine boats entered the well deck several times, testing the boats maneuverability and the crew's ability to safely bring the boats in, and work together with the Oak Hill crew.

After the RCBs and RPB were secured in the well deck with mooring lines, Oak Hill drained the deck so Riverine Sailors could inspect the boats and ensure they could be properly secured for sea during underway evolutions.

"The RCB was designed with the focus of being a mobile command and control boat, with the ability to control smaller Riverine boats up river," said Cmdr. Clay Wilson, commanding officer of RIVRON 2. "We've kind of pulled it (Riverine mission) out towards the coastal environment right now to fill Riverine needs and the craft has proven to be capable of doing more then just inshore missions."

"Once the last boat was clear of the well and it was clear that the events of the day were successful, my well deck team broke out into spontaneous cheers and applause," said Cmdr. David Bauer, commanding officer of USS Oak Hill. "They knew the importance of what they had just done. It was a very moving moment."

The Riverine Force, part of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, is a combat-arms force that performs point defense, fire support and interdiction operations along inland water ways to defeat enemies and support U.S. Marines and coalition forces.

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