USS Wasp Welcomes France’s Newest Amphibious Craft
Amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) welcomed France’s newest amphibious craft Feb. 7 as part of the joint operations that make an essential piece of Exercise Bold Alligator 2012.
A landing catamaran, or LCAT, entered the well deck of Wasp as a test of the interoperability between the French craft and U.S. amphibious vessels. France is one of 11 nations taking part in Bold Alligator.
The landing craft, which originated from the French amphibious assault ship, Mistral (L9013), entered Wasp’s well deck slowly before backing and returning to rest, making sure future visits could be safe and smooth.
“After loading with the Wasp and previously with USS San Antonio (LPD 17), we know we can load our LCATs with the amphibious well decks of American ships,” said Lt. Cmdr. Arnaud Tranchant, the French liaison officer to Wasp.
The LCAT, called Engin de débarquement amphibie rapide (EDA-R), is a double-hulled landing craft. Lt. Cmdr. George H. Pastoor, lead planner for Bold Alligator said EDA-R can go 25 knots, allowing it to transport troops and equipment to shore faster than most landing craft.
On D-Day, the first day of shorefront operations for Bold Alligator, EDA-R played a crucial mission for the French forces, along with the Bold Alligator team at-large.
“We were the first to go into the enemy area,” said Tranchant. The LCAT was responsible for putting French troops and supplies in “Garnet” (a hostile nation in Bold Alligator’s scenario), and helped make it possible for U.S. Sailors and Marines to go ashore and complete their objectives.
For exercise participants, loading EDA-R into Wasp’s well deck is an opportunity to ensure joint operations are just as effective in training as in real-combat scenarios.
“During a joint operation, you want to make sure that a force of combined nations has compatible equipment,” said Pastoor. “You want to make sure your radios can talk to each other, that your aircraft can land on each other’s flight decks. That’s what this is about.”
Pastoor said that EDA-R’s visit was just one of the operations taken to ensure interoperability. Before D-Day, all involved forces practiced combat enhancement and force integration training, or CET/FIT. This included extensive and ongoing joint training, such as landing French and U.S. helicopters on each other’s platforms.
“We want to make sure every force, every man is ready to land,” said Pastoor.
After EDA-R docked in Wasp, U.S. service members took a quick tour of the craft before its departure.
“We cannot do these missions alone – Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya,” said Pastoor. “Now and in the future, when we work together and work together successfully, we accomplish more.”
Naval Today Staff , February 10, 2012; Image: navy