SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- Forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), departed Jan. 24 for a deployment in the 7th Fleet area of operations.
Bonhomme Richard will embark Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (31st MEU), take part in an amphibious integration training (AIT) and certification exercise (CERTEX), participate in the annual multinational combined joint training exercise Cobra Gold, and conduct various other exercises aimed at increasing mission readiness.
"This deployment will really give us a chance to demonstrate Bonhomme Richard's ability to work side-by-side with the 31st MEU and accomplish our mission in a professional, efficient manner," said Capt. Daniel Dusek, Bonhomme Richard commanding officer. "I have no doubt the crew will exceed expectations this deployment and I look forward to seeing what we can do."
AIT and CERTEX are training exercises focusing on the ARG's and 31st MEU's amphibious assault capabilities, humanitarian assistance capabilities, disaster relief operations, and non-combatant evacuation missions.
Cobra Gold is an annual U.S.-and-Kingdom-of-Thailand-sponsored joint, multinational exercise intended to demonstrate the ability to rapidly deploy a joint task force to conduct combined operations at sea and ashore.
"Exercises like this are critical to a timely, effective response in the event of any mission or contingency in the 7th Fleet area of operations," said Capt. Cathal O'Connor, commander of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11. "I fully expect the Bonhomme Richard ARG to successfully operate forward and demonstrate our ability to be ready in moments of crisis and to execute our war fighting mission flawlessly."
This deployment also marks the first time many junior enlisted Sailors will get underway for a full deployment aboard Bonhomme Richard.
"I'm really excited to see Bonhomme Richard in action," said Yeoman Seaman Apprentice Thomas Beasley. "This is the reason I joined the Navy, to be out at sea with an opportunity to serve my country and see the world."
Bonhomme Richard is the third ship from the ARG to get underway and will meet up with USS Germantown (LSD 42) and USS Tortuga (LSD 46) at a later date.
Bonhomme Richard ARG reports to Commander, Amphibious Squadron 11 and is currently conducting operations in the 7th Fleet area of operations.
For more news from Commander, Amphibious Force, U.S. 7th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/ctf76/.