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USNS Choctaw County Participates in Exercise Bold Alligator 2014

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS141105-01
Release Date: 11/5/2014 9:09:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Steve Hill, Expeditionary Combat Camera

CHARLESTON, S.C. (NNS) -- Spearhead-class joint high speed vessel USNS Choctaw County (JHSV 2) is conducting proof-of-concept testing during Exercise Bold Alligator 2014 as an afloat forward staging base style platform.

Bold Alligator 2014 is underway in multiple states and along the Eastern Seaboard. In addition to 18 other U.S. Navy and coalition ships, one of the Navy's newest platforms is getting an opportunity to test itself.

'That includes the communications portion, launching of small boats and also helicopter operations,' said Choctaw County's Chief's Mate Patrick Mullaney. 'This shows us what we're able to do as a crew.'

In the last week, Choctaw County hosted members of Special Boat Team 20 (SBT 20) and critical skills operators from U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command to conduct scenario training.

Mullaney said these scenarios give the ship's crew an opportunity to accurately represent what the vessel is capable of.

'These aren't missions that are unrealistic,' said Mullaney. 'It's very much something that these ships are going to be doing in the future. So for them to come aboard and do real-world scenarios and real-world training, it is beneficial to everyone.'

Choctaw County brings many different capabilities to an already durable and powerful fleet.

'The on-station maneuverability and overall speed is fantastic, especially when compared to cargo vessels out there, or even amphibious ships,' said Mullaney.

In addition to reaching maximum speeds of 35-45 knots, Choctaw County is equipped with an expansive flight deck, a load ramp capable of supporting 100 tons of weight and a 20,000 square-foot mission bay.

'The mission bay is also set up more for modular components,' said Mullaney. 'You can fit and fill anything you want in there. The ship was designed to be a ferry boat style vessel - to move, roll on and roll off cargo. However, there are concepts out there to make humanitarian type mission sets for hospitals, disaster relief, things like that. The possibilities for what the ship can do are really endless.'

Mullaney said Choctaw County is proving itself to be a very versatile and capable ship with great possibilities.

'It has potential, but along with potential come the limitations of the vessel,' said Mullaney. 'There are communications limitations, as well as sea-states limitations, for launch and recovery of small boats.'

Despite these challenges, the ship and crew continue to learn from both achievements and setbacks.

'It's really not going to be known whether or not the ship can do all these things well until you try them out,' said Mullaney. 'You need to try them in different sea states, different scenarios and different ports. It's really a trial and error type situation. That's exactly what exercises like this are designed to do.'

Bold Alligator 2014 is intended to improve Navy and Marine Corps amphibious core competencies. Working with coalition, NATO, allied, and partner nations is a necessary investment in the current and future readiness of our forces. The exercise is scheduled to conclude Nov. 10.

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