USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) (BHR) and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) got underway Aug. 10 for a certification exercise (CERTEX) to prepare for deployment later this year.
CERTEX is the last of a three-part pre-deployment exercise conducted to strengthen the MEU's ability to operate with the Navy and respond to situations that may arise.
"CERTEX tests both blue and green planning, execution and timeliness to see if we meet the standards to deploy," said Cmdr. Michael Dickson, Bonhomme Richard operations officer. "However, this exercise, unlike those previously completed, focuses mainly on the MEU's ability to carry out and properly execute their mission."
The MEU's mission as it is teams with the Bonhomme Richard includes providing a rapid-response force capable of conducting conventional amphibious and selected maritime operations from sea, by surface or air.
"Even though the focus of this exercise is geared mainly toward the Marines, it's the big BHR blue-green team, so this means Bonhomme Richard is operating at full swing in support of this mission and getting this certification under our belts so we can set our sights on a successful deployment," said Dickson.
Outside observers will assess the MEU through a series of individual evolutions that make up the overall mission of the MEU, including humanitarian and disaster relief assistance, long range helicopter recovery, non-combatant evacuation operations and amphibious assault operations.
"Marine inspectors from the First Marine Expeditionary Force will present us with situation and missions and observe our planning and execution throughout each evolution," said Dickson.
"This exercise builds on best practices and maintains continuity between the MEUs," said Col. Gregg P. Olson, the 11th MEU's commanding officer. "Standardization ensures that whichever combatant commander we may work for knows exactly what he is getting with a MEU."
Bonhomme Richard is the lead ship for the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group, which includes Commander, Amphibious Squadron 7; USS Cleveland (LPD 7); USS Rushmore (LSD 47); Tactical Squadron 12 Detachment 2; Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, Detachment 3; Assault Craft Unit 1 Detachments Bravo and Foxtrot, Beachmaster Unit 1 Detachment Bravo and Fleet Surgical Team 9.
For more news from USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd6/.