ABOARD THE USS BONHOMME RICHARD --
ABOARD THE USS BONHOMME RICHARD, (Jan. 24, 2007)—The Sailors from Assault Craft Unit 5, Detachment B recently participated in a boat recovery exercise with the Marines and Sailors of 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion (MSOB) in conjunction with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Expeditionary Strike Group Integration Exercise.
During last-minute preparations, the Marines and Sailors tied down all loose gear, secured the hatches and headed out to open waters off the coast of Southern California. Once in position, the Marines of 1st MSOB launched small Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) from Landing Craft Air Cushions (LCACs) to practice launch and recovery maneuvers and tactical boat formations.
The LCAC’s mission is to provide the operational commander with ready craft and crew to conduct expeditious amphibious operations and to assault, embark and disembark aboard ship and ashore. Recently it has been used for humanitarian operations during Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 tsunami relief operations. The minimum requirement to man such a diverse craft is five of the 53 personnel who are in a detachment.
“These Sailors are incredible professionals,” said Lt. j.g. Javier S. Garcia, Los Angeles native and officer-in-charge of Detachment B. “They tenaciously work on their craft.”
He continued to explain that the Sailors do more than just maintenance—there are technical aspects, planning and coordination when it comes to preparing for an operation. The Sailors have to be very resourceful to accomplish all tasks associated with the LCAC.
“The LCAC’s main objective is to load and unload it in a fast and accurate way,” said Gas Turban Mechanic First Class Anthony Ramos, a mechanic with ACU-5, Det B. “We like it done quick and easy.”
Communication between Navy and Marine Corps operations sections enables the operational commander to utilize the LCAC to its fullest capacity.
“When there’s a ship-to-shore or shore-to-ship movement, it takes timing and logistical planning while remaining tactical,” explained Garcia. “All of it needs to be orchestrated strategically and methodically so that it’s executed correctly. A logistical sequence of events and procedures will make for successful operations.”
In addition to precise communication, speed and mobility, hallmarks of Navy/Marine Corps operations, may be the primary reason LCACs are popular among the special operations community.
“[The LCAC] can do 50 knots max speed, can carry up to 60 tons and can operate in all sorts of conditions,” said Garcia. “We can reach 70 percent of the all the beaches in the world, which gives you a lot of capabilities.”
“What we did today was something different than the usual,” said Gas Turban Electrician First Class Victor L. Quiroz, an electrician for ACU-5, Det B, in regards to working with 1st MSOB. Quiroz continued and said that the Marines were very organized and self-motivated and that he was very impressed.
“Those guys are very good. What they did today, I had heard about and saw pictures but I never was there working with them directly.”
The integration exercise is the first “at-sea period” for the 13th MEU, which is preparing for an upcoming spring deployment.