Marines disembark a CH-53E Super Stallion on the flight deck of USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as part of a certification exercise, Aug. 18. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Cameron McCulloch)

CORAL SEA - The forward-deployed Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (BHR ESG), with embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), completed a certification exercise (CERTEX) Aug. 18.

CERTEX is conducted to evaluate the integration of all elements of the BHR ESG and the 31st MEU, testing their combined ability to plan and execute mission essential tasks.

The Bonhomme Richard ESG consists of the flagship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), USS Ashland (LSD 48) and USS Green Bay (LPD 20), which are all on patrol off the coast of Australia. CERTEX evolutions took place from August 12-18 following the ESG’s recent completion of Amphibious Integration Training (AIT), which is aimed at integrating the Navy assets into the mission prior to CERTEX.

“AIT was practice, but CERTEX is designed to prove our Sailors and Marines can respond quickly to real world contingencies,” said 2nd Lt. Corey Egler, Assistant Operations Training Officer for Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 31. “Sailors and Marines have a symbiotic relationship. Without the blue side, we cannot complete our mission, they allow us to move quickly in and out of various situations whether it be by small boat or craft. This exercise really shows our dedication to the mission and willingness to perform well in critical situations”

During CERTEX the BHR ESG and MEU team successfully executed mock contingency missions that include fast logistics planning, ship-to- shore movement, non-combatant evacuation operations (NEO), humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR) exercises, mechanized raids, visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS), Chemical Biological Radiological (CBR) drills, and flight operations in support of the exercise.

“Readiness is key in any contingency and our Sailors and Marines have proven to be a ready asset to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Asia- Pacific region” said Capt. George Doyon, commodore, Amphibious Squadron 11. “This exercise helped ensure that our Navy-Marine Corps team retains the flexibility and capabilities needed to support U.S. objectives in a crisis of natural or man-made origin. Whether it be humanitarian assistance for an earthquake or typhoon, or an amphibious raid to achieve a single objective, this is our chance to use our Navy-Marine corps team to prove that we can quickly and effectively deploy to any location and accomplish our mission.”

CERTEX evolutions are specifically designed to prove that both branches can simultaneously conduct mission sets across a range of amphibious operations that include launching and recovering landing craft air cushions, landing craft utilities, and MV-22B Ospreys, and provide a platform for care of stranded personnel and casualties during a simulated evacuation drills.

Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, with embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is on a routine patrol operating in the Indo-Asia- Pacific region to enhance warfighting readiness and posture forward as a ready-response force for any type of contingency.