USS WASP, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Wasp (LHD 1) participated in a crisis response exercise in the Persian Gulf Nov. 1-7 aimed at enhancing coalition force and regional response capabilities.
This was the second phase of the crisis response exercise, which started with a table-top planning discussion in September. This phase concentrated on operational assets and moving ships and equipment in the Kingdom of Bahrain and off shore aboard Wasp.
Wasp's role in this exercise - and during an actual crisis - was carrying necessary equipment and putting the ship in the most effective position to get people back to shore while providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to a requesting nation. Wasp also served as a command platform for embarked Commander Task Force (CTF) 59.
"We're currently serving as a command and control center and as a landing pad for MH-53 helicopters," said Wasp Operations Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Robert Klaszky. "That's an important element [to this exercise] providing communications and the necessary tools to coordinate the exercise from sea."
Another resource Wasp provides is the use of its multi-mission, utility MH-60 helicopters flown by Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) Squadron 28.
The helicopters are used for Search and Rescue missions, and to transport personnel and supplies ashore to affected countries. In addition, HSC-28 Assistant Operations Officer, Lt. Dean Farmer said the helicopters offer the unique ability to place Marines "in an area that can't be reached by conventional means," through fast roping.
Farmer said, providing support to this exercise is comparable to what Wasp provided during the ship's humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in the Hurricane Felix-devastated county of Nicaragua in September. Wasp provided locals with aerial delivery of emergency relief supplies, which included food, water, blankets and hygiene kits.
HSC-28 also played a major role in helping international and interagency relief organizations in Nicaragua determine the best means of logistically evaluating the disaster.
CTF 59 Commander Rear Adm. Terence E. McKnight said predicting when or where a natural disaster will occur is nearly impossible. But, he said striving for improved response when a host nation requests is essential to providing support, security and stability to the region.
Other exercise participants included: U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, CTF 53, CTF 55, CTF 56, CTF 57, U.S. Embassy in Bahrain, Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team, Wasp, Joint Communications Support Element, Standing Joint Forces Head Quarters, U.S. Air Force Central Command; and various coalition forces and regional countries.
For more news from USS Wasp, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/lhd1/.