Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit man the rails as USS Ashland (LSD 48) arrives in Sattahip, Thailand. (U.S. Navy/MCSN Kelsey L. Adams)

SATTAHIP, Thailand - Amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) pulled into Sattahip, Thailand, Feb.5 to kick off exercise Cobra Gold.

Cobra Gold (CG) is a Thai-U.S. co-sponsored multinational joint exercise designed to advance regional security by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and is scheduled to begin this week.

Sailors assigned to Ashland and Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) will work alongside the Royal Thailand Navy and the Republic of Korea Navy to complete CG.

“We do exercises such as Cobra Gold to help with theater security cooperation and to train our blue-green team how to work in conjunction with our foreign partners,” said Cmdr. Steven Wasson, executive officer of Ashland. “During this multinational exercise, Sailors and Marines will practice their skills and train alongside our allies through a variety of evolutions.”

CG will consist of a full range of military operations to include humanitarian assistance evolutions, non-combative evacuation drills, and offensive and defensive techniques.

“Cobra Gold is going to be a good opportunity to learn another culture and see another part of the world,” said Capt. Joe Fontanetta, mechanized company commander for Battalion 15 within the 31st MEU. “We are ready for this multicultural exercise, and excited to be apart of this experience.”

In addition to Thailand, the U.S. and the Republic of Korea, nations participating in CG16 include Malaysia, Japan, Singapore and Indonesia.

Ashland is one of three ships that comprise the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group and is scheduled to meet up with amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) at a later date.

Cmdr. Daniel P. Duhan, commanding officer of USS Ashland (LSD 48), greets members of the Royal Thailand Navy following the ship's arrival. (U.S. Navy/MCSN Kelsey L. Adams)