USS WASP, At sea (NNS) -- USS Wasp (LHD 1) returned to sea Jan. 9 to conduct qualifications in preparation for Bold Alligator 2012 the nation's largest joint/multinational amphibious assault exercise in the past 10 years.
To properly prepare for Bold Alligator, Wasp will spend the next week conducting flight and well deck operations to allow the ship and various Marine Corps elements to become certified for amphibious operations at sea.
During this at-sea period, Wasp's crew will work jointly with U.S. Marines to land and launch AV-8B Harrier aircraft and amphibious hovercraft known at landing craft air cushion (LCAC)
"We are treating this training as sort of a dress rehearsal," said Ensign Anthony Despota, Wasp's Combat Information Center officer. "Not only will we conduct a multitude of flight and well deck operations but the Combat Systems department will conduct operations with various units while underway to test and ensure that all of our equipment will be working properly in time for Bold Alligator."
Exercise Bold Alligator 2012 will focus on the fundamental aspects and roles of amphibious operations to improve amphibious force readiness and proficiency for executing the six core capabilities of the Maritime Strategy - forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security and humanitarian assistance/disaster response.
"Wasp's crew will be working 24-7 conducting a variety of operations during the day and well into the night so that we can ensure that no matter what we have thrown at us we can handle the situation with a calm head and successfully complete our tasking," said Despota.
Despota said these evolutions are critical to the success of Bold Alligator and all future Navy-Marine Corps missions.
"This underway period will help us work out any kinks we may come across," said Despota. "Successfully completing Bold Alligator will help to ensure that we as a naval force will be able to complete mission tasking when directed."
The successful completion of exercise preparations is dually critical for Wasp as it is slated to serve as the Bold Alligator flagship, placing Wasp in a high visibility position during the entire course of the exercise.
"Wasp will host numerous distinguished visitors including high-ranking government officials and foreign military personnel," said Despota. "Bold Alligator is an all-hands evolution requiring all personnel onboard to play their parts in helping ensure the exercise is successful."
Bold Alligator participants include elements of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command and 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
Bold Alligator 2012 will allow U.S. service members and coalition partners the opportunity to exercise amphibious operations in a real-world environment and revitalize the Navy Marine Corps' vital core competencies.
The exercise will run from Jan. 30 through Feb. 12.
Join the conversation about Bold Alligator 2012 on social media using #BA12.
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For more news from USS Wasp (LHD 1), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd1/.