SOUTH CHINA SEA (Feb 7, 2012) The forward-deployed amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) operates in the South China Sea while transitting to Thailand to take part in exercise Cobra Gold. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Raul Moreno Jr.)

SATTAHIP, Thailand - USS Germantown (LSD 42) began its involvement in Exercise Cobra Gold 2012 (CG 12), the multinational military exercise co-sponsored by the U.S. and Thailand, Feb. 10 in the Gulf of the Kingdom of Thailand.

The exercise, now in its 31st year, is designed to promote regional peace and security. Nations involved in the exercise include the U.S., Kingdom of Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea and representatives from over 20 countries. CG 12 helps renew ties between nations and promotes strong military working relationships.

Elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked with Germantown and USS Tortuga (LSD 46) allow the amphibious ready group to conduct amphibious operations to project power ashore. The 31st MEU will participate in amphibious raids, amphibious assaults, helicopter assaults, small boat raids, and humanitarian disaster relief operations during CG 12.

Amphibious Craft Unit 1 (ACU-1), also embarked with the group, has been tasked with providing amphibious transportation for Marines to land.

"We are always on standby," said Engineman 1st Class Kosal Sim, assigned to ACU-1. "We're pretty flexible in our operations, transporting personnel and cargo from the ship to the shore."

Sailors and Marines participated in this first amphibious operation, a planned and coordinated exercise that demonstrated rapid deployment ashore. Service members participating in the exercise also said they look forward to working with other nations throughout CG 12.

Lance Cpl. Deunte Williams, assigned to the 31st MEU, said, "I'm actually excited to be participating in the exercise. I think we can gain a lot of valuable information from each other."

The U.S. and the Kingdom of Thailand have worked together for over 175 years.

Germantown, commanded by Cmdr. Carol McKenzie, was commissioned Feb. 8, 1986, and is capable of carrying more than 721 Sailors and Marines.