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PHILIPPINE SEA - The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Ohio (SSGN 726) made a brief stop near Okinawa, Japan, Feb. 2, as part of her deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, giving the crew a rare opportunity to integrate with a III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) force reconnaissance element in the area.
The exercise tested a joint expeditionary concept in which Marines could safely embark aboard a submarine via a combat rubber raiding craft (CRRC). In line with the Tri-Service Maritime Strategy, the exercise was part of ongoing III MEF-U.S. 7th Fleet efforts to provide flexible, forward-postured and quick response options to regional commanders. This strategy provides guidance to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard on how to employ forces in day-to-day competition, crisis, and conflict allowing the services to deliver naval superiority at sea.
“Every time we train with our Marine Corps counterparts, it sharpens our ability to respond fluidly to regional challenges, deliver combat-tested capabilities and prevail in day-to-day competition, in crisis and in conflict,” said Capt. Kurt Balagna, commanding officer, Ohio (Gold). “My crew was fully invested in making this a successful event, and proving that this unconventional concept could be a viable option in our warfighting toolkit.”
"This training demonstrates the ability of Force Reconnaissance Marines in III MEF to operate with strategic U.S. Navy assets," said III MEF Force Reconnaissance Company Commanding Officer Maj. Daniel Romans. "As the stand-in force in the first island chain, it is critical that Force Reconnaissance Marines are capable of being employed across a myriad of U.S. Navy platforms in order to enhance the lethality of the fleet in the littoral environment. Reconnaissance Marines have a proud history of working with submarines and we look forward to sustaining these relationships in the future."
Over the next several months, submarine force leaders will continue to explore joint training opportunities, focusing on integrated exercises that enable agile, responsive and scalable force employment across a spectrum of warfighting areas.
Armed with tactical missiles and equipped with superior communications capabilities, Ohio is able to conduct large-volume, short-notice strike missions and covertly deploy special operations forces.
Ohio is the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name, and is the first in her class of ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and guided-missile submarines (SSGNs). She was commissioned Nov. 11, 1981 and became the first of four Trident SSBNs to convert to SSGNs, completing her conversion Feb. 7, 2006.
Ohio and her sister ship, the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727), are both homeported at Naval Base, Kitsap in Bangor, Washington.
As the U.S. Navy's largest forward deployed fleet, U.S. 7th Fleet routinely operates between 50-70 ships and submarines and 140 aircraft with approximately 20,000 Sailors. 7th Fleet's area of operation spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South Pacific, providing security and stability to the region. 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security while conducting a wide-range of missions to support humanitarian efforts and uphold international laws and freedoms of the sea.