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OKINAWA, Japan - Rotationally-deployed littoral combat ships (LCS) in the Indo-Pacific continue to integrate with forces across the region as a part of the Naval Expeditionary Force (NEF) and in support of theater littoral warfare.
Independence-variant LCS USS Tulsa (LCS 16) hosted Navy staff from Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7, and U.S. Marines from III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) and subordinate commands while in port naval Base White Beach, Okinawa, for familiarization of the platform, and to explore integration methods for future operability.
“Events like these are beneficial for both the Navy and Marine Corps to maximize the potential for Naval integration and conducting maritime operations in the Indo-Pacific region,” said LtCol Mike Chankij, ESG 7, force Marine officer.
Tulsa provided tours to 104 Marines and two civilians from commands across Okinawa, to include III MEF Information group (MIG), 12th Marine Regiment, 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO), and 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion. Rear Adm. Chris Engdahl, commander, ESG 7, visited Tulsa upon arrival and expressed his satisfaction with how the ship has operated thus far.
“This was an ideal time to have an LCS visit Okinawa. Navy and Marine Corps integration, especially in regards to the development of theater amphibious warfighting concepts, is moving so rapidly that Tulsa enabled planning teams to go from white paper to mission bay in moments. This ship and the teams enabling her missions continue to perform exceptionally” said Engdahl.
Integration between the Blue and Green teams at the ship level, while exploring interoperability between Sailors and Marines aboard LCS, show the immense value and versatility that LCS brings the NEF and expeditionary strike group. Improving mutual capability, capacity, and lethality is what LCS has quickly done while also forging new ways to operate in support of the vision for a shared commitment of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
“Hosting Rear Adm. Engdahl, his staff, and Marines aboard Tulsa gave us the opportunity to talk through our various mission sets, like surface warfare, mine countermeasure, and anti-submarine warfare,” said Cmdr. Brandon Cornes, commanding officer, Tulsa Blue Crew. “As we improve our understanding of each other, we learn how we can operate for and with each other, to best enhance Blue-Green interoperability.”
Assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, rotationally-deployed LCS are prepared to serve as a ready-response force. From carrying Marines, serving as advanced staging platforms, and conducting independent ops, the integration among the Blue-Green teams at the tactical level increases shared mission understanding.
DESRON 7 continues to explore and implement ways for LCS to integrate across the joint force and in support of the theater littoral warfare commander. In early June near Guam, Sailors assigned to Task Group 75.1/Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5 integrated with the crews and MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21, embarked on Tulsa and USS Charleston (LCS 18). Events focused on expeditionary mine countermeasures (ExMCM) integration and training, to include Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) launch and retrieval, rescue hoists, repels, and fast roping.
Tulsa and Charleston are on their maiden deployments to the Indo-Pacific region. LCS rotational deployments to U.S. 7th Fleet provide operational commanders great adaptability to support allies and partners across the region; offer persistent presence; and contribute to our shared commitment to maritime security, all in support of commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
As the U.S. Navy’s destroyer squadron forward-deployed in Southeast Asia, DESRON 7 serves as the primary tactical and operational commander of littoral combat ships rotationally deployed to Singapore, ESG 7’s Sea Combat Commander, and builds partnerships through training exercises and military-to-military engagements.
ESG 7, comprised of Amphibious Squadron 11, DESRON 7, HSC-25, Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7, Naval Beach Unit 7, and USS Blue Ridge (LLC 19), is the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force, and is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and is responsible for the full range of expeditionary operations in the Indo-Pacific region.