GULF OF THAILAND –
Ships, landing craft, and aircraft from the Kingdom of Thailand, Republic of Korea, and the U.S. conducted a combined amphibious assault during Cobra Gold 2018 on Feb. 17.
The assault featured a wave of U.S.-Thai-Republic of Korea amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs) with coordinated air cover overhead from a range of attack aircraft. After landing on Thailand’s Hat Yao Beach, Marines from all three nations consolidated their positions on the beach.
The assault began approximately two miles off the coast of Thailand, where amphibious ships of all three nations launched landing craft out of their respective well decks in conjunction with flight operations.
The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) teamed with the Royal Thai Navy’s HTMS Angthong (LPD-791), HTMS Sichang (LST-721), HTMS Rawi (LCU-785), and the Republic of Korea Navy’s ROKS Cheon Ja Bong (LST-687).
Cobra Gold, now in its 37th iteration, is meant to improve the interoperability and strengthen relationships among participating nations. Activities range from diving operations to disaster response coordination to a number of civic projects.
“This amphibious assault was the culmination of months of planning. I am proud of the safe and superb execution from all involved,” said Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, who served as the Deputy Commander Amphibious Task Force for the exercise. “From a Navy-to-Navy perspective, our relationship with Thailand has always been strong and this exercise reinforces our bonds and ability to respond together as a combined force.”
Planning consisted of multiple conferences and several days of exchanges while the ships were in port in Thailand prior to the exercise.
“We should strive to reflect the motto of our Commander in Chief of the Royal Thai Navy: ‘Committed to Excellence,’” said Capt. Nuttapol Diewvanich, Commander Amphibious Task Force for Cobra Gold, during the Pre-Sail Conference aboard Angthong. “Cobra Gold is a good opportunity to learn and exchange knowledge. Good relationships are very important to increase the strength the alliance.”
Once out to sea, ships, landing craft, and aircraft spent several days rehearsing and practicing for the culminating amphibious assault. Units ensured the timing of each wave met objectives. Communications systems were also tested during this period.
Liaison officers were placed on each ship to ensure that each nation’s intentions were understood by each respective partner.
“Working together like this is evidence of the alliance we share,” said Lt. Youngwon Kim, a Republic of Korea Navy officer who served aboard Bonhomme Richard for the exercise.
Working together side-by-side is reflective of the multitude of the activities of taking place for Cobra Gold, which will run through Feb. 23.