USS IWO JIMA, At Sea (NNS) -- A detachment of Sailors and Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) from Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 4 embarked aboard the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) to support amphibious operations for the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG).
The unit based out of Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Virginia Beach, Va., deployed three LCACs, 15 craft crew members, 14 support personnel and an officer in charge to Iwo Jima for deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility.
While on deployment, ACU 4's primary function is to maintain the LCACs at 100 percent mission readiness in order to support the ESG as well as the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
LCACs give the 26th MEU the flexibility to rapidly deploy troops, vehicular assets and equipment from ship to shore.
"We provide the ESG with a means of moving any and all equipment and personnel needed, aboard or ashore, in a timely manner," said Chief Quarter Master Jerrod Morgan, navigator, LCAC 86. "We are able to conduct patrol missions or move 70 tons of vehicles, equipment or personnel at speeds up to 50 knots."
ACU 4 has a long history of providing support for a variety of missions. For the past 10 years, ACU 4 has been involved in major amphibious exercises and operations in the Arabian Gulf in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
It also supported humanitarian aid missions in Operation Provide Comfort in Haiti, in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic after Hurricane George devastated the area, as well as supported transporting supplies during Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
ACU 4 works closely with the embarked 26th MEU in support of beach operations.
"We provide the support that is needed," said Chief Machinist's Mate Michael Waranis, craftmaster, LCAC 87. "We have the ability to provide rapid transport of any cargo in the Marine Corps inventory with little regard to terrain."
The ACU 4 detachment consists of a variety of enlisted rates including quartermasters, boatswain's mates, operations specialists, gas turbine system technicians, enginemen and machinist mates. There are also distinct duties that go along with being assigned to an ACU.
Craftmasters are responsible for ensuring their craft are ready for operation and the execution of each mission.
Engineers maintain and operate the engineering plant; navigators plot courses, oversee mission planning and control radio communications while the loadmasters oversee loading the LCACs and ensure an even weight distribution on the deck.
During periods when ACU 4 is not conducting amphibious operations, the detachment dedicates most of its time to performing maintenance on the unit's craft.
"The craft are fairly maintenance intensive," said Waranis. "This is due to the high salt and sand environments we operate in."
"USS Iwo Jima has supported us in every aspect, from berthing, to watch and warfare qualifications, and craft repair," concluded Morgan. "They have helped to ensure that we have the support necessary to complete and support every mission."
The Iwo Jima ESG is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operations to conduct Maritime Security Operations (MSO). MSO help develop security in the maritime environment. From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. MSO complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.
For more news from Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group, visit www.navy.mil/local/iwoesg/.