Cooperation From the Sea
COOPERATION FROM THE SEA exercises began in 1994. Since then, they have been held in the Vladivostok area of Russia and in the U.S. state of Hawaii. The purpose is to allow Russian and U.S. forces to familiarize themselves with cooperative tactics and skills which may be needed in the event they combine efforts to cope with a real disaster.
During exercise Cooperation from the Sea, first conducted in 1994, U.S. Sailors and Marines simulated relief efforts to a community struck by natural disaster. The scenario included an earthquake with mass casualties and ensuing fires. Cooperation from the Sea was conducted in the Khasan region of Primorye in '94, off the coast of Hawaii in '95, and in Peter the Great Bay in '96.
In August 1995 "Cooperation from the Sea "95" [CO-OP 95] was the first combined U.S.-Russian exercise to take place on American Soil, and the Commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the end of World War II with Russian, Canadian, New Zealand, and Australian naval units. This marked the first visit of a Russian warship to Pearl Harbor. CO-OP 95 was a combined U.S. and Russian exercise simulating a relief effort for a coastal area that had recently been inundated by a tsunami. Amphibious landingcraft and helicopters brought medical supplies, water desalination equipment (ROWPU-Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit), and set up a Medical Aide Site (MAS) and a Shock Surgical Triage Unit (SSTU). The amphibious units searched the area for casualties and brought them to the MAS.
The stated purpose of the military exercise "Cooperation from the Sea 95" was "to improve the interoperability with the Russian military forces in conducting disaster relief missions, and to promote cooperation and understanding between U.S. and Russian service members."
Sailors and Marines from USS Belleau Wood (LHA 3) and their counterparts from a Russian navy ship demonstrated how the two forces could work together in disaster relief and humanitarian operations during a week-long exercise called Cooperation From the Sea '96. The exercise, in Vladivostok, Russia, ended Aug. 17. In addition to operational training, the exercise featured an extensive cultural and professional skills exchange program.
The last 'Cooperation From the Sea' exercises were held in 1998.
Cooperation From the Sea 98
This exercise, held in August 1998, was the fourth in the series and the third held in Russia. Since the exercise scenario was set in a simulated remote community not easily reached by normal civilian units, Russian and American naval and Marine units conducted the operation as an amphibious landing. The simulated disaster included coping with fires and mass casualties caused by the earthquake, thus also testing medical capabilities.
The Russian participants included Naval Infantry and their BTR-80 amphibious vehicles, plus sailors of the Russian Pacific Fleet, headquartered in Vladivostok. A Russian Navy Grisha 5 corvette participated for the first time. The corvette was stationed at the edge of the training area for security, for protection against piracy or other problems that might arise during a real operation. The commander of the Russian contingent was Rear Adm. Temeryev, Deputy Commander, Primorye Flotilla of Multipurpose Forces.
The American participants were U.S. Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and their amphibious vehicles, plus the U.S. Navy amphibious landing ship USS Germantown (LSD-42), Navy Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) hovercraft, and Navy "Seabee" engineers. The U.S. exercise task force was commanded by Cmdr. Joe Parker, commanding officer of the USS Germantown. U.S. Navy LCACs were used since they have the ability to move sideways while transporting large amounts of cargo--70-tons (about 64-metric tons) with space for 12 jeeps or 150 Marines. Their participation added another dimension to the exercise.
To promote interoperability and greater familiarization, Russian and U.S. personnel took part in crossdeck operations. U.S. Marine jeeps and trucks were loaded aboard a Russian Navy LST, while 16 Russian Naval Infantry BTRs were placed aboard the USS Germantown using three U.S. LCACs, a first for this bilateral exercise. The combined force then assembled for the operation at the Slavyanka training area.
The LCACs brought other nonamphibious vehicles ashore where they proceeded over challenging, muddy roads that provided the realism of the unexpected. When a U.S. Marine five-ton truck became mired in the mud, a Russian tracked recovery vehicle pulled it out. Despite the obstacles, the force reached the simulated community on time. Real fires burned in the building from which civilian "victims" were to be rescued. One U.S. participant remarked about the realism.
Thirty Russian Navy cadets played the roles of civilian victims. They were treated by Russian and U.S. medical corpsmen, who stabilized them on site, before moving them to a basic aid station, a Russian mobile surgery facility operated from the back of a truck with a tented extension. When the victims were deemed fit to travel, they were then transported to a Russian Battalion Aid Station, then on to a Regimental Field Hospital similar to a U.S. Army MASH field hospital. Russian nurses and U.S. Navy corpsmen at the hospital then prepared "victims" quickly for treatment by doctors. The most serious cases were then "evacuated" to a simulated permanent hospital.
After the field exercise, U.S. sailors and Marines took part in a community relations project cleaning, repairing and painting a local tuberculosis treatment hospital. The teamwork between the servicemen of the two countries sometimes grew into warm friendships that left a lasting impression on many of the American participants.
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