TCAT - Type Commander's Amphibious Training
The Type Commander's Amphibious Training [TCAT] was originally designed more as a training tool for the Marine units in preparation for their upcoming training cycle. This exercise gives all units involved the opportunity to train as a working force during a relatively simple military exercise. TCAT symbolizes the beginning of the ARG's training cycle.
The Marines of the amphibian battalion consist of forces not considered a Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU. Instead, they are forces comprised of different units that will, with time, deploy with an ARG. Even though the ships aren't working with the Marines they would deploy with, the opportunity to work with Marines is always beneficial for amphibious ships. It is an opportunity for the three ships that will deploy together, to work together very early in the training cycle.
The week-long training permits the Amphibious Ready Group, or ARG, the opportunity to work together as a cohesive unit to fine tune their basic ship-handling skills, well-deck and flight-deck operations, and other integral shipboard activities and drills. In addition, TCAT allows the sailors aboard these ships the opportunity to work closely with their Marine counterparts.
In June 1999 the USS Wasp (LHD 1) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) completed Type Commander's Amphibious Training (TCAT) off the coast of North Carolina. Participating units in this comprehensive amphibious training exercise included USS Trenton (LPD 14), USS Oak Hill (LSD 50) and Assault Craft Units TWO and FOUR. Using three Landing Craft, Air Cushioned (LCAC) vessels, and CH-46 and CH-53 helicopters, Wasp moved more than 800 Special Marine Task Force personnel to the shore for a mock beach assault. LCACs provide over-the-horizon, high speed ship-to-shore and over-the-beach amphibious support capabilities. LCACs enable Wasp to support combat forces ashore at increased standoff distances across the beach to hard landing points beyond the waterline.
Just a few short miles off the coast of Onslow Bay, N.C., in the early morning mist of 08 February 2001, sat three U.S. Navy amphibious assault ships and a detachment of determined Marines mounting a waterborne invasion. These forces were participating forces in the exercise "TCAT 2-01." The TCAT exercise, or Type Commander's Amphibious Training, is culminated by this early-morning offensive. The assault is the product of a busy week of intense vehicle and aircraft training and a full-scale rehearsal the day prior. The amphibious ships participating in this exercise were the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship Bataan, amphibious transport dock Shreveport and the dock landing ship Whidbey Island. Supporting elements included Tactical Air Control Squadron 21 Det 2, Commander Naval Beach Unit 2 Det Bravo, Assault Craft Units 2 and 4 Det Bravo, Beach Master Unit 2 Det Bravo, Fleet Surgical Team 4 and Helicopter Support Squadron 6 Detachment 1.
Upon arrival to their specified launch areas, the amphibious ships spring to life, ballasting down and commencing the steady flow of vehicles from their well decks and aircraft from their flight decks. The synchronized assault consists of coordinated waves of 41 amphibious assault vehicles loaded with Marines and an assault wave of six Marine troop-carrying CH-46s. On call for the assault were three landing craft air cushions, or LCACs, loaded with an array of Marine vehicles and weaponry including light-armored vehicles, M1A1 tanks, and a contingent of Marine infantrymen. Upon completion of the exercise, the three amphibious ships steamed back to their home ports of Norfolk and Little Creek and the Marine contingent will return to Camp Lejeune, NC.
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