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Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group Conducts Drills in South China Sea

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS161017-13
Release Date: 10/17/2016 10:06:00 AM

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Sarah Villegas, Expeditionary Strike Group 7 Public Affairs

SOUTH CHINA SEA (NNS) -- The Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHR ESG) conducted a second iteration of drills with two guided-missile destroyers from the Pacific Surface Action Group (PAC SAG) in international waters, Oct. 13-15.

The BHR ESG conducted a series of training events with Destroyer Squadron 31, USS Decatur (DDG 73), and USS Spruance (DDG 111) to increase amphibious maritime warfighting proficiency by leveraging the multi-mission capabilities of cruiser-destroyer (CRUDES) units.

Training events included PAC SAG integration for high-value unit defense, air defense, surface and anti-submarine warfare operations. Embarked aircraft detachments within the ESG, to include MV-22 Ospreys and UH-1Y Hueys of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, were utilized in conjunction with Spruance's embarked MH-60R Seahawks for a variety of maritime warfare missions including defense against potential surface threats.

"The seamless integration of CRUDES capabilities into the expeditionary force enhances the already dynamic capabilities inherent in the embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit," said Rear Adm. Marc H. Dalton, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7, who also commands the BHR ESG. "I'm proud of the professionalism displayed by our teams in maximizing the training during this event, and capturing lessons that will improve our warfighting readiness."

The BHR ESG consists of amphibious ships included in a traditional amphibious ready group along with the staff structure to deploy with surface ships, expanding the mission sets and capability of the ESG. The drills were meant to test the ESG 7 staff, subordinate units, and associated staffs in being able to rapidly integrate destroyers like Decatur and Spruance.

"Conducting these ESG integration exercises further emphasized the level of coordination required for multiple naval platforms to work cohesively," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Harvey, combat information center officer on Decatur. "In doing this it helped us identify the multiple combat systems, air assets, and personnel necessary to enhance our mission capability and achieve success."

The PAC SAG, serving forward under the operational control of U.S. 3rd Fleet and commanded by Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 31, deployed in April as part of a three-ship group consisting of Decatur, USS Momsen (DDG 92), Spruance, and embarked helicopter detachments of HSM 49 to conduct maritime security operations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. While Spruance and Decatur conduct routine patrols in the Western Pacific, Momsen is conducting an Oceania Maritime Security Initiate (OMSI) mission.

The BHR ESG is currently on a routine patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the region.

BHR ESG units include flagship amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD 20), amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25, and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. The 31st MEU consists of Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment (2/4), Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 31, and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262 Reinforced.

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