By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aren Everett, USS Kearsarge Public Affairs
NORFOLK (NNS) -- Sailors from the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (KSGARG) returned to homeport at Naval Station Norfolk July 2, after participating in the KSGARG/MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) Exercise off the U.S. Atlantic coast.
The KSGARG consists of the Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 4, 26th MEU, the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51).
"Our major objective is to make sure we get the Marines where they need to go," said Chief Warrant Officer James Edward Gray III, Kearsage tactical information warfare officer. "In order to do that, you've got to protect the ship from being damaged, hit or attacked. Every ship has a role to play in all of that."
During the exercise, the ARG was tested in every possible type of warfare situation. One of the last exercises was a strait transit, which was like the capstone of ARGMEUEX, according to Gray.
"They threw everything at us," said Gray. "Just watching the communication flow through combat, to the bridge, and then to the warfare commanders, made me think we were doing well. We weren't taking any damage; there was no reason for us to set GQ, so everything was happening pretty smoothly."
"For a person who doesn't know what they're getting into, going on the watch, knowing that it's going to happen, is kind of unnerving," said Gray, "but once you get there and sit in the seat it becomes more like an opportunity to be on the varsity team and play in the big game, so to speak. Once you start doing it you don't want to stop. It's pretty fun."
The KSGARG is scheduled to participate in the composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX), which is the final certification before deployment. Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 4 oversees and conducts both ARGMEUEX and COMPTUEX.
Gray said that this will be the seventh COMPTUEX of his career.
"It's like ARGMEUEX on steroids," said Gray. "There'll be a lot of what they call 'free play' involved, where they'll get off the script and maybe one night you'll wake up to hearing that we're in the middle of doing something with other ships that are not necessarily on our team. It's going to be interesting."
The KSGARG is scheduled to deploy in fall 2015.