USS Ashland (LSD 48) departs White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan, after offloading Marines from Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, July 6. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Sarah Villegas)

SASEBO, Japan - The Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) arrived in Sasebo, Japan after completing several phases of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) series, July 8.

The Ashland crew embarked and supported Marines from 2nd Marine Battalion, 2nd Regiment during the CARAT series in an effort to enhance relationships, increase interoperability, and maintain peace and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

“Ashland and the embarked Marines of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment performed superbly over the past month and half. Their combined participation in CARAT demonstrates the critical mission set of amphibious warfare to this theater,” said Rear Adm. John Nowell, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet. “The Sailors and Marines accomplished important training with our partners, and I know they also built relationships that will have lasting impact.”

The ship and embarked Marines completed bilateral training under CARAT with partner forces from Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

The Ashland crew is returning to Sasebo after a month and a half out at sea, during which time they conducted ship formations, medical training, and combined amphibious assaults throughout the CARAT series. Ashland also made a port visit to Singapore, where Sailors and Marines volunteered a local soup kitchen.

Ashland is forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan, as part of the Amphibious Force 7th Fleet.

Commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet, is the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force, headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa.