USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) approaches White Beach Naval Facility, March 4. (U.S. Navy/MC3 William Sykes)

OKINAWA, Japan - The Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, with embarked Marines and Sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, departed White Beach, Okinawa, to begin a routine regional patrol, March 8.

The regularly-scheduled patrol is designed to increase regional security, maintain unit readiness, and support U.S. Pacific Command theater security cooperation initiatives.

"This patrol is an excellent opportunity to refine our crises response capabilities and further our partnership with Amphibious Squadron 11," said Colonel Tye Wallace, commanding officer, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. "We are looking forward to the patrol and I know we will return as a stronger Navy-Marine Corps team."

The patrol is the culmination of a multi-month unit-level phased training and readiness cycle conducted by both the 31st MEU and ships of the BHR ESG.

Now, the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps forces will train together to perfect execution of a wide range of missions launched from sea to shore.

“It is integral that, as a sea-going force, we practice contingency exercises with regional partners to further strengthen our knowledge and experience in operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater,” said Capt. George Doyon, commander, Amphibious Squadron 11. “We are a readily deployable amphibious force capable of landing personnel where ever needed, which is why regular training and certification is our top priority.”

The ESG, commanded by Rear Adm. Marc Dalton, consists of the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), the USS Green Bay (LPD 20), and the USS Ashland (LSD 48), with the capability to integrate cruiser-destroyer assets for increased mission sets.

Each ship’s unique capabilities meet the needs of each of the major subordinate elements of the 31st MEU: Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines; Combat Logistics Battalion 31; Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262 and Marine Attack Squadron 311.

More than 2,300 Marines and Sailors from the 31st MEU are embarking the ships of the BHR ESG, for a total composite of nearly 4,400 service members across the force.

As the Marine Corps’ only continuously forward deployed amphibious forces, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and Amphibious Squadron 11 are prepared to respond to a wide range of military operations, from humanitarian assistance missions to limited combat operations, at a moment’s notice throughout the Asia-Pacific region.