Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Kearsarge ARG Completes Integrated Training

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Cristina Gabaldon, USS Kearsarge Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 4 and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) conducted PHIBRON-MEU Integrated Training (PMINT) with the Kearsarge Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) off the coast of North Carolina April 20-May 5.

PMINT was a 16-day exercise that included many evolutions the ARG and MEU would execute during real-world operations. It began with the embark of nearly 900 Marines and all of their vehicles and equipment on USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), and the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21)

"PMINT gave us the opportunity to integrate with the 26th MEU and conduct operations with the ARG," said Capt. Baxter Goodly, Kearsarge's commanding officer. "This was the first time we've had a full MEU embarked in over two years and we were able to train with the MEU in everything from well deck to flight deck operations."

PMINT lays the groundwork for the ARG and the MEU to create a "Blue-Green" team and to work through the initial challenges faced when integrating Marines on board a ship.

"This training period is almost like a practice run for the Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) the ARG will be doing in July," said Cmdr. Christopher Korn, operations officer on board Kearsarge. "We weren't graded for PMINT, but we were able to successfully run through several war-time missions of delivering Marines and their equipment to theater."

Capt. Larry Grippin, PHIBRON 4 commodore, was pleased with how well the operations went.

"We exceeded all standards and we were able to accomplish all the Blue-Green training we needed," said Grippin. "We were able to successfully integrate with the 26th MEU and we established a good working relationship in the process."

Commander of the 26th MEU Col. Mark Desens thanked the Kearsarge crew for the success of PMINT.

"I would like to compliment and congratulate the crew of USS Kearsarge," said Desens. "[The] 26th MEU came into PMINT with a long list of tasks and we were able to complete them on time, even exceeding expectations. PMINT was a great success, and I look forward to upcoming exercises and the deployment with the Kearsarge ARG."

Kearsarge will continue training with the ARG and the 26th MEU leading up to COMPTUEX in July and an upcoming deployment this fall.