EAST SEA (NNS) -- The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit team wrapped up their participation in Exercise Ssang Yong 16 off the coast of the Republic of Korea, March 18.
Approximately 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 this year's iteration of Ssang Yong.
"When we think about interoperability we think of the phrase 'one team, one fight'," said Rear Adm. John B. Nowell Jr., commander, 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 367 flight hours and transported more than 40,000 pounds of cargo ashore. Additionally, the aircraft of Marine Medium Tilt rotor Squadron (VMM) 166 (Reinforced) and the "Wild Cards" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23 expended approximately 4,747 pounds of ordnance during the simulated assault exercises.
The Boxer ARG/13th MEU team worked to increase partner-nation interoperability mission sets with ROK Sailors and Marines during coordinated amphibious operations with amphibious assault vehicles, air combat element aircraft, landing craft, air cushions, landing craft utility.
"I don't know if I have the words to express how incredibly pleased with how well the ARG/MEU team performed during Ssang Yong," said Capt. Keith Moore commander, Amphibious Squadron 1. "Leaders at all levels worked incredibly hard to make this massive and complicated exercise look easy. I would especially like to highlight the performance of our senior enlisted leaders who got out and about across the ships, landing crafts and exercise areas ashore to make this exercise an unqualified success."
Preparing for the unexpected during an exercise such as Ssang Yong brings about many factors that contribute to the success or failure of the mission.
"One of the most challenging aspects of this exercise was working through some weather related challenges," said Moore. "It was cold off the coast of South Korea; it actually snowed one morning, for those who had to work outside, like flight deck personnel, this was a significant departure from what we are accustomed to off the coast of San Diego. Of course, our Sailors and Marines adapted and overcame the challenging environment and performed their duties superbly."
Ssang Yong, Korean for "twin dragons," is a biannual, bilateral amphibious assault exercise conducted in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations by Navy and Marine forces with the ROK in order to strengthen interoperability and working relationships across the range of military operations from disaster relief to complex, expeditionary operations.
The 4,500 Sailors and Marines of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit are currently transiting the 7th Fleet area of operations during a regularly scheduled deployment.
For more news from USS Boxer (LHD 4), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd4/.