Wednesday, June 06, 2007

BHRESG Completes Presence Ops

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dustin Mapson, Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group Public Affairs

USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- The Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group’s (BHRESG) Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5 Det. B completed four days of presence operations (presence ops) in the Persian Gulf on June 1.

During the presence ops, ACU 5 Det. B’s Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) followed designated navigational routes in Iraqi territorial waters and international waters.

“What we are doing is enhancing our presence in the maritime environment as well as conducting expeditionary strike force (ESF) training,” said Senior Chief Gas Turbine System Technician Electrical (SW) Ernesto Barba, ACU 5 lead chief petty officer. “These operations demonstrate our commitment to protecting Iraq’s sea-based infrastructure, which helps provide the Iraqi people the opportunity for self determination.”

Lt. Javier Garcia, ACU 5’s officer in charge, said the mission of presence ops is to act as an extension of the BHRESG.

“Presence ops is an extension of BHRESG’s maritime operations mission,” said Garcia. “This also gives the warfare commanders a different perspective of the battle space and allows us to see what the other forces operating in the area are doing from ground level.”

The operation went smoothly, said Gas Turbine System Technician Mechanical 1st Class (SW) Robert Aycock, an assistant craft master for one of the missions.

“We are required to stay within the recognized route pattern and to maintain a safe distance from other craft,” said Aycock. “During our run we saw a lot of merchant traffic and speed boats. However, we are well-trained and a very experienced crew and safety was our first priority.”

The missions ran two to three times daily over a four-day period, aimed to cover a target area while continually alternating navigational routes.

BHRESG Commander Capt. Bradley Martin said the mission helps maintain the U.S. Navy’s continuous presence in the region.

“The strike group is extremely versatile,” said Martin. “The presence operation was effective on many levels. First off, it shows that we are capable of maintaining a security presence in the region. Second, it also shows that if called upon, we can carry out any mission we are tasked with safely and efficiently. And third, it supports our ESF training which allows us to plan and conduct defensive multitask force operations as part of the U.S.’s long-standing commitment to maintaining maritime security and stability in the region.”

The BHRESG consists of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 7, USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), USS Denver (LPD 9), USS Rushmore (LSD 47), USS Milius (DDG 69), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), USS Chosin (CG 65) and 2,200 combat-ready Marines of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). BHRESG is conducting maritime operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

Maritime operations help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment and complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts in regional nations’ littoral waters. Coalition forces also conduct maritime operations under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters so that commercial shipping and fishing can occur safely in the region.