Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group Enters 5th Fleet

The aft lookout stands the watch as a landing craft, air cushion prepares to enter the well deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eva-Marie Ramsaran/Released)

INDIAN OCEAN (NNS) -- After transiting the western Pacific Ocean, the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) entered the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operations this week to relieve the Bataan ARG.

While deployed to the region, Sailors and Marines from the Bonhomme Richard ARG and the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) will conduct Maritime Security Operations (MSO), which help set conditions for security and promote regional stability and global prosperity.

"We've been training for the MSO mission in this region for quite some time," said Capt. Rodney Clark, the ARG's commodore. "We're ready to execute when tasked."

While transiting the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR en route to the 5th Fleet AOR, the ARG/MEU team participated in humanitarian projects during Marine Exercise 2009, sending Sailors and Marines ashore in Indonesia and Timor-Leste to provide medical and dental care to more than 2,000 patients in cooperation with local health care officials.

Sailors and Marines also volunteered in over a dozen community service projects during four port visits in the area. Projects ranged from cleaning kennels at an animal shelter in Guam, repairing playground structures in Phuket, Thailand, and interacting with children at orphanages in Dili, Timor-Leste.

Maritime Security Operations develop security in the maritime environment and complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations. From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. These operations seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment to transport personnel and weapons or serve as a venue for attack.

The Bonhomme Richard ARG consists of three ships – amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6); amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7); and amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47).

In addition, the ARG includes the command element, Amphibious Squadron 7; Tactical Air Control Squadron 12, Detachment 1; Helicopter Sea Combat 23, Detachment 3; Assault Craft Unit 1, Detachment B; Assault Craft Unit 5, Detachment F; Beachmaster Unit 1, Detachment B; and Fleet Surgical Team 9.