Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Thomas Vongpanya discusses the use of the 11-meter RHIB boat during visit, board, search and seizure operations during a tour of USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) by Indian Navy sailors, Aug. 25. (U.S. Navy/Ensign Kris Rodriguez)

GOA, India - The Whidbey Island-class (cargo variant) amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), with embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), departed Goa after a scheduled port visit and subject matter expert exchange, Aug. 27.

Pearl Harbor, part of the America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), is currently operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to strengthen partnerships and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency.

While in Goa, the ship's Sailors and Marines conducted exchanges with the Indian Navy and Indian Navy Marine Commandos relating to amphibious warfare as well as tours, a press conference and meetings with military leadership.

"Our subject matter expert exchanges were very successful, and it is our sincere hope that they will lead to more robust exchanges in the future and enhanced interoperability between our forces," said Cmdr. Theodore Essenfeld, commanding officer of Pearl Harbor. "This continuation of our nations' long history of military cooperation is based on our shared national ideals of democracy, international rules and norms, and our desire for peace, security and prosperity throughout the region."

"No single nation can combat regional threats alone," said Lt. Col. James Stover, the Combat Logistics Battalion 15 commanding officer. "During the Amphibious Warfare Subject Matter Expect Exchange (SMEE), we discussed topics ranging from amphibious training continuums, MEU force generation, and the 15th MEU's ability to conduct operational maneuver [and logistics] from the sea. Through these topics and small group discussions, we shared each other's unique experiences while encouraging further interoperability and teamwork in future engagements."

In addition to the topics discussed above, the exchange also offered an in-depth look at the MEU's pre-deployment training program and personnel and equipment assignment to shipping. Once the SMEE completed, the crew had the opportunity to enjoy liberty and experience rich Indian culture during the ship's first visit to India.

"After a very fruitful four-day visit, the officers, crew and embarked forces on board USS Pearl Harbor are grateful for the hospitality, camaraderie and friendship shown to us by our Indian hosts in Goa," said Essenfeld. "While we thoroughly enjoyed the rich culture and heritage of Goa we look forward to further exchanges and future operations with our Indian military partners."