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USS Somerset Hosts National Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer Conference

08 April 2016

From Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Molly A. Sonnier

The amphibious transport dock ship hosted more than 550 military and civilian officials on board, April 5-6.

CORONADO, Calif. - San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Somerset (LPD 25) hosted the National Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer (NEPLO) conference on board, April 5-6.

NEPLO showcased the U.S. Navy's unique ship-to-shore capabilities as well as the roles and responsibilities of the amphibious fleet during Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) scenarios and real life disaster response.

Over 550 EPLOs from various military services and civilian organizations attended.

"The purpose of this event was to tell the public about the effectiveness and operations that happen during a natural disaster," said Lt. Kevin Goettsche, Somerset's 'Air Boss'. "We provide support for civilians and coordinate with local authorities so that they get fresh water and the medical supplies that they need."

Amphibious units train and prepare to effectively respond and support a natural disaster within 72 hours. Events like the NEPLO conference allow the Navy and all military services to learn to work together in a cohesive environment with local authorities in times of crisis.

Also participating in part of the conference were Assault Craft Unit 1 and Amphibious Construction Battalion 1.

ACU 1 provided Landing Craft Utility 1627 for tours so that conference attendees could better understand an LCU's capabilities. Because an LCU can easily enter and exit an amphibious ship's well deck, it allows the Navy to transport heavy equipment and cargo from ships to shore in order to provide aid where port facilities are unavailable.

"It is important to understand the logistic limitations of a disaster relief effort so that we can turn them into a strength," said U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Patrick McCammond, CH-53E pilot.

Somerset has a tremendous capability to aid areas affected by a natural disaster because of the well deck, flight deck, and medical facilities on the ship. The ship is also able to produce thousands of gallons of water to provide to an area in need.

"The Marines and Navy work together all the time in an expeditionary environment, and with the training that we do together, it makes our responses go smoother when we are both called upon during a real life disaster," said McCammond.

This was the first NEPLO conference held since 2012.

"This was the first conference I attended as the EPLO for the state of Florida," said U.S. Army Col. John Dethlefs. "There was a lot of information put out and I know with continued training, we will all be able to work quickly and effectively together, and provide the assistance and relief that is needed."

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