EAST SEA (NNS) -- Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group and Republic of Korea military forces wrapped up Exercise Ssang Yong 2016 (SY 16) March 18 while underway off the coast of ROK.
Ssang Yong, or "twin dragons" in Korean, is a biennial amphibious-assault exercise conducted in the Indo-Asia region with U.S., and ROK Navy and Marine Corps in order to strengthen interoperability and working relationships across the range of military operations from disaster relief to complex expeditionary missions.
Nearly 9,200 U.S. Marines of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade and 3,100 U.S. Navy personnel of Expeditionary Strike Group 7 joined forces with 4,500 ROK Marines, 3,000 ROK Navy personnel, 100 Royal Australian Army Soldiers and 60 Royal New Zealand Army Soldiers for the amphibious exercise.
"When we think about interoperability we think of the phrase 'One team, one fight,'" said Rear Adm. John B. Nowell Jr., commander of ESG 7. "This exercise has certainly been one team, one fight. United with the ROK Navy and Marine Corps, we are an unbeatable team. Over the past few weeks we observed a cohesive amphibious force come together and we look forward to continued integrated operations in the near future."
During the 10-day exercise the U.S.-ROK Blue-Green team conducted more than 220 flight operations and over 240 craft operations.
"Amphibious operations are like an orchestra, each unit has a very specific part to play," said Rear Adm. Ki-kyung Park, commodore of the Republic of Korea Navy's Fifth Flotilla. "Rank aside, each Marine and Sailor is an integral part of the mission. What I observed during Ssang Yong 16 was a masterpiece."
The exercise commenced with a 19-ship photo exercise to include ships from the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group and Boxer Amphibious Ready Group along with COMFLOT 5.
The Blue-Green team kicked into high gear to carry out rehearsals for a simulated amphibious assault mission, where nearly 17,000 service members from the U.S., ROK, New Zealand and Australia participated in an amphibious landing on the beaches of Pohang.
Lastly, the force conducted Assault Follow On Echelon exercises involving M1A1 Abrams tanks from Marine Delta Company 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division along with members of the 6th Royal Australian Regiment and a Fueling at Sea between amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67), during which the large LHD transferred nearly 10,000 gallons of fuel to the cruiser, closing out the exercise.
"I want to express my appreciation to U.S. Navy and Republic of Korea leadership for the support we received in the execution of Ssang Yong 16," said Marine Brig. Gen. John M. Jansen, commanding general 3D MEB. "The great partnerships developed with Rear Adm. Nowell, Rear Adm. Park, Brig. Gen. Lee, Commodore Thompson and Captain Ward throughout this exercise reinforced the importance of Naval integration in the planning and execution of complex, amphibious operations. It was rewarding for the entire team to be able to engage in a joint/combined exercise that provided value to the region by way of a clear demonstration of strength and resolve between the United States and the Republic of Korea."
Assets of the BOXARG who joined the BHRESG in SY 16 included amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) with PHIBRON 1 embarked, amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18), amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), and the 13th MEU 4th Marines, Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 1st Tank Battalion and I MEF Crisis Response Force Company.
Amphibious assault ship ROKS Dokdo (LPH-6111), amphibious landing ship ROKS Cheon Wang Bong (LST 686), Chungmugong Yi Sun-sin-class and destroyer ROKS Munmu the Great (DDH 976) are among the ROK assets that participated in the exercise.
The Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, comprised of the flagship Bonhomme Richard and amphibious dock landing ships USS Germantown (LSD 42) and USS Ashland (LSD 48), is conducting a routine patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility along with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
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