OKINAWA, Japan (Aug. 21, 2011) A landing craft air cushion returns argo and equipment back to White Beach after offloading Marines and vehicles from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and the forward-deployed amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class(SW) Eva-Marie Ramsaran)

OKINAWA, Japan - The forward-deployed amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) offloaded Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Aug. 21 at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan.

Germantown and the 31st MEU returned to Okinawa after the ship departed Sasebo June 23 to participate in Talisman Sabre 2011 (TS11), a bilateral command post and field training exercise designed to maintain a high level of interoperability between U.S. and Australian forces. The exercise consisted of approximately 14,000 U.S. and 9,000 Australian personnel.

Working in coordination with personnel from Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5, the ship anchored off White Beach and started offloading more than 450 Marines and 22 vehicles and their cargo. ACU-5 provided three landing craft air cushions to move the troops and their equipment from the ship to the shore.

For the 31st MEU, the offload officially ended their participation in summer patrol and TS11. During the exercise, the Marines conducted land, sea and air training around the Australian coast, including an amphibious raid and capturing the airfield at Sam Hill. They also practiced their ability to conduct joint humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

BLT 2/7 Weapons Company Commander Capt. Zebulon Philpott said he felt the Marines performed well and gained valuable experience from the exercise.

“All of the Marines came back from that exercise and spoke mostly about how great the live fire training was that they conducted with the Australian military,” he said. “I was very impressed with the leadership, resourcefulness and perseverance that all the platoons showed as they worked through maintenance, international travel and ship to shore operations. The more exposure and positive training that we conduct with our allies breaks down barriers that could hinder future training or real life situations.”

Germantown, commanded by Cmdr. Carol McKenzie, is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group which reports to Commander, Amphibious Force Seventh Fleet, Rear Adm. Scott Jones, who is headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.