Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Essex Amphibious Ready Group Transits the Strait of Malacca

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Liam Kennedy

STRAIT OF MALACCA (NNS) -- The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) navigated through the Strait of Malacca June 14, while transiting toward the 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) in support of maritime security operations.

The Strait of Malacca is a narrow 500-mile strait that connects the Indian Ocean with the Pacific Ocean. Located between the Malay Peninsula and the Island of Sumatra, this strait holds significant importance in the global economy with more than 947,000 vessels passing through the strait each year carrying approximately one-fourth of the world's traded goods.

"The Strait of Malacca is one of the busiest choke points in the world and we need to transit it to get to our ultimate goal of reaching 5th Fleet AOR," said Lt. Walt O'Donnell, navigator onboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23).

The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), which consists of Anchorage, USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Rushmore (LSD 47) and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) conducted multiple practice transits during the work-up cycle to prepare for the numerous vessels and long transit time.

"More ships pass through there than anywhere else in the world," said O'Donnell. "This evolution takes 20 hours to complete, which means many Sailors are standing the watch to keep the ships safe."

Due to the size and activity of the strait, all three ships must enforce strict maneuvering postures and the Sailors standing lookout watch have to constantly scan the surface for smaller vessels or hazards.

"Safety is paramount due to the possible security threats," said Sgt. Mattheau Ross, a member of Anchorage's Small Caliber Action Team. "Maintaining the alerted posture is one of the most important factors because our teams can keep eyes on the sky and on the ocean in order to ensure the safety of our Sailors and Marines."

The Essex ARG/MEU is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.

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