SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia (Feb. 26, 2011) Rear Adm. Ouk Seyha, commanding officer of Ream Navy Base, greets Capt. Bradley Lee, commander, Amphibious Squadron 11 during an opening ceremony for Maritime Exercise 11 (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eva-Marie Ramsaran)

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia - The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrive off the coast of Sihanoukville, Cambodia for Maritime Exercise (MAREX) 11 Feb. 26.

MAREX 11 is a theater security cooperation visit designed to enhance interoperability and improve capabilities of the U.S. Armed Forces and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF).

“The U. S. Navy is always honored to have the opportunity to visit the Kingdom of Cambodia,” said Capt. Bradley Lee, commodore, Amphibious Squadron (CPR) 11. “Visits such as this help to further strengthen the relationship between our two governments.”

This port visit provides USS Essex (LHD 2) crew members a chance to serve as goodwill ambassadors for the U.S., promoting peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. It also demonstrates commitment to regional partnerships and fosters growing relationships with the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The ARG will embark 60 RCAF personnel to introduce them to humanitarian assistance disaster relief procedures and Essex shipboard operations.

“Essex will conduct shipboard operations such as damage control, navigation and engineering operations with the Royal Cambodian Navy,” said Lt. Justin Jomoto, CPR 11 future operations officer. “By teaching and showing their navy what we do, we give them a perspective of how another navy operates.”

Beachmaster Unit 1 and Assault Craft Unit 1 will be conducting a beach survey to make sure the beach is suitable for landing craft to storm the beach.

ARG Sailors will conduct two community service projects, one at the Goodwill School and the other at Villiage d’enfant de Sihanoukville, an orphanage in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The Sailors will be able to read and play with the kids.

“Cambodia has also demonstrated a willingness to cooperate closely on counterterrorism, peacekeeping, disaster response, and medical and health related activities,” said Lee.

The 31st MEU medical team and Cambodian medical personnel will provide primary care services, dental care, optometry and ophthalmology for three days at the Al-Mujarharine Islamic Center in Kampong Som. They will be treating medical problems such as hypertension, skin infection, dental problems, vision problems, asthma and more.

Marines will also conduct jungle warfare training, aviation demonstrations, visit, board, search and seizure training while in Cambodia.

Towards the end of the exercise, Essex ARG and 31st MEU will participate in a sports day with local Cambodian citizens and play soccer and volleyball.

Essex ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver (LPD 9), amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) and guided missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG 106).

The Essex ARG reports to Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Richard Landolt, who is headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.