By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erin Lea Boyce, USS Bataan Public Affairs
USS BATAAN, Mediterranean Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 4, ACU-2 and embarked Marines from 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), conducted full-scale amphibious operations training May 7, allowing the crew to maintain proficiency and readiness on three different types of craft.
Bataan opened its well deck to the sea and began launching landing craft air-cushions (LCAC), and receiving landing craft utility (LCU) and combat rubber raiding crafts (CRRC) from the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) and dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41).
"Amphibious day is a chance to show our operational capability and to demonstrate the fact that we can do amphibious operations," said Lt. Cmdr. Shannon Wells, Bataan's damage control assistant. "It's also to show that our equipment works, and it serves as a test to make sure the procedures we have in place are correct."
Bataan Sailors from engineering, combat systems and deck departments played primary roles in the evolution.
"Combat systems has all the communications, and they are more of the overall operations part of it," said Wells. "The deck department takes care of all the physical manhandling of the equipment, like putting the lines out, bringing the craft in and setting up the operation. Engineering department [Sailors] do the ballasting. We are the ones who ballast the ship down, literally sink the ship, and bring it back up from the water."
Wells said each craft has unique requirements for how much water is in the well.
Amphibious crews from ACU-4, operating LCACs, and ACU-2, operating LCUs, spent the day gaining proficiency in entering and leaving the well deck.
"We did what we call ins-and-outs, where we go into the well deck, set down the LCAC, we got back up, came out and went back in," said Gas Turbine Systems Technician 3rd Class Earl Langondorf, ACU-4.
Cpl. Erick Crumley, a radio operator with the 22nd MEU's radio reconnaissance unit, said the amphibious events gave the Marines a chance to gain experience in integrated blue-green operations. Crumley said when his CRRC arrived in Bataan's well deck deck, he saw "a wall of Navy there just to help pull us in."
"Every time we go out, its always great training," said Crumley. "If we were to do an amphibious certification, this is how we would leave and return, so it's good to have that down."
The focused training is keeping Sailors adept in all facets of amphibious operations.
"It was a training evolution with all the new personnel and old personnel to get qualified and to freshen up on their skills," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Christina Hicks, who is training to be the well deck control officer. "We had different issues come up that weren't expected, but everybody came out okay and had the chance to learn ."
Bataan is the command ship of the Bataan Amphibious Ready (ARG) group, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.