PACIFIC OCEAN -- The amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) departed Okinawa, Nov. 4, after completing of a series of amphibious operations as part of Exercise Blue Chromite 18.
Blue Chromite is a joint field training exercise held annually between all U.S. military services, though primarily focused on the Navy and Marine Corps, to strengthen naval integration and tactical proficiencies in amphibious warfare.
Ashland embarked nearly 300 Marines with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment (1/3) who have been deployed to Okinawa for several months from Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
The two services worked together to coordinate an amphibious assault, Nov. 2, which culminated the exercise. The amphibious assault featured 12 amphibious assault vehicles landing on a beach in Okinawa and an assortment of artillery, vehicles and personnel coming ashore via landing craft utility (LCU) - all craft departing from Ashland.
"Coordination with the Navy plays an integral part in successful amphibious operations," said Lt. Col. Jeremiah Salame, commanding officer of 1/3 Marines. "We are grateful to the crew of the USS Ashland for their support of Exercise Blue Chromite 18."
Blue Chromite 18 was the first time 1/3 Marines have worked with amphibious ships since they have been deployed in theater. Ashland and other ships of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11 routinely partner with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), the forward-deployed MEU based out of Okinawa, but had not previously trained with 1/3 Marines.
Despite the unfamiliarity in working together, both units achieved mission accomplishment in executing the amphibious assault by focusing on fundamentals of amphibious operations.
"In a short period of time, we were able to establish a great working relationship, identify mission essential tasks and solidify a plan that would ensure Blue-Green success," said Cmdr. Patrick German, Ashland's executive officer.
German, who has worked with amphibious operations since 2003, said it's beneficial for a crew to treat every exercise as if it were the first.
"The first time you do an exercise you're double checking everything, sometimes triple checking, just to make sure everything is dialed in," said German. "Approach every exercise as though you're doing it for the very first time, no matter how many times you've done it, making sure everyone knows when, where and what the expectations are."
Part of the Amphibious Force 7th Fleet amphibious ships based in Sasebo, Japan, Ashland has been on a routine deployment for the past five months as a ready-response asset for any of contingency.