A landing craft air cushion (LCAC) transits to USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) during the onload of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in Okinawa, Aug. 18. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Benjamin Stevens)

OKINAWA, Japan - Ships of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) departed Okinawa, Japan, Aug. 21, beginning their fall 2016 deployment.

The Bonhomme Richard ESG is comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD 20), amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) and Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

The ESG will first enter their amphibious integration training (AIT) and certification exercise (CERTEX). AIT and CERTEX are focused on proving Sailors and Marines the opportunity to practice operations such as amphibious raids, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and non-combatant evacuation. These test the sea-based and airborne capabilities of the Navy-Marine Corps team.

"AIT and CERTEX will focus on rehearsing the procedures for planning and executing the various mission sets our 'blue-green' team is trained to carry out," said Capt. Ed Thompson, commander, Amphibious Squadron 11. "The integration of our Sailors and Marines and their ability to work together is what makes the training so successful."

Once AIT and CERTEX conclude, the Bonhomme Richard ESG will take part in multiple unilateral and multilateral exercises in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

The events scheduled throughout the deployment will enhance regional partnerships and continue to maintain a forward presence of naval forces that allows rapid response to any potential real-world contingency.