Arabian Sea - The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (ABECSG) and the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (KSGARG), with the embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), conducted joint operations May 17-18.
After the ABECSG deployed to the region in response to credible threat indicators, the operations highlight the ability of the U.S. Navy to quickly mobilize assets and aggregate different platforms with a variety of operational capabilities.
“The exercises and training we are doing with Amphibious Squadron Six, the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and USS Kearsarge are aimed towards increasing our lethality and agility to respond to threats, and deterring destabilizing actions in this important region,” said Rear Adm. John Wade, commander, Carrier Strike Group 12.
During the exercises, ABECSG and KSGARG conducted numerous joint training evolutions designed to improve operational tactics in several warfare areas. Exercises included air-to-air training, steaming in formation and maneuvering, and establishing joint communications to rapidly enable a command and control environment.
Super Hornets from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, embarked on the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), conducted a dissimilar air combat training (DACT) exercise with AV-8B Harriers embarked on the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). With the Super Hornets simulating opposing forces, the Harriers were allowed a rare chance to train with a capable and stealthy adversary.
“I’d never had a chance to train with Harriers before,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott, a pilot with CVW 7 operations who led the DACT. “We also had the Harriers receive gas from our airborne F/A-18 mission tanker - something that rarely happens. It was pretty neat to see the Harrier up close in the air.”
Additionally, Super Hornets from CVW 7 and Harriers and attack helicopters from the Kearsarge conducted a joint close air support (CAS) exercise. The CAS provided a unique training opportunity as it joint multiple types of tactical aircraft that do not typically operate together.
The training featured extensive coordination with the U.S. Marine Corps, the Navy’s natural partner at sea, at a time when Department of the Navy leadership has increasingly emphasized Joint Forces integration and interoperability.
During the training, the Maritime Raid Force of the 22nd MEU conducted visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) training, as well as a fast-roping exercise with helicopters and the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96).
CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, embarked on Kearsarge with the 22nd MEU, completed deck landing qualifications (DLQs) on Abraham Lincoln and Bainbridge. MV-22 Ospreys, also with MEU 22, also had an opportunity to land on the flight deck of Abraham Lincoln. The pilots gained valuable training landing aboard ships they otherwise would not deploy with, ultimately increasing interoperability and the skillsets for pilots to seamlessly transition platforms if necessary.
“This tactical fluency across platforms allows us to efficiently traverse any waters uncontested and readily employ our military assets anywhere, at any time, as demonstrated through this interoperability between Kearsarge and the carrier strike group,” said Capt. Jason Rimmer, commanding officer of Kearsarge.
The joint operations between ABECSG and KSGARG are a demonstration of the steadfast commitment of the Navy to protect the United States, deter conflict and preserve strategic interests around the world. The ABECSG and KSGARG, with the 22nd MEU, are prepared to respond to contingencies and to defend U.S. forces and interests in the region.
With Abraham Lincoln as the flagship, deployed ABECSG assets include staffs, ships and aircraft of Carrier Strike Group 12 (CSG 12), Destroyer Squadron 2 (DESRON 2), USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) and Carrier Air Wing 7 (CVW 7).
The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge is the flagship for the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.