USS Essex completes integration drill with amphibious ready group, marines

US Navy ships from the Essex amphibious ready group (ARG) have completed the first series of integration exercises with 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) during amphibious squadron (PHIBRON)-MEU Integrated Training (PMINT) off the coast of Southern California.

Participating units honed their abilities to plan and conduct exercises in maritime security operations, crisis response capability and forward naval presence over the course of three phases.

The Essex ARG and 13th MEU will be the first stateside amphibious force deploying with the F-35B, and PMINT marked the first pre-deployment training exercise that fully integrated the increased capabilities of the Lightning II.

Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 41) form the Essex ARG.

During the first phase of PMINT, sailors and marines worked together to safely embark the 13th MEU’s aircraft, vehicles, material and personnel throughout the three ships.

The second and longest phase was integrated training. This phase included exercises and drills in air defense, land air assaults, anti-piracy, communications, boarding, planning and execution, standard operating procedures and testing of equipment.

The final phase was debarkation, and involved off-loading embarked personnel, aircraft, watercraft and vehicles from the Essex ARG.

The ships of the Essex ARG and the 13th MEU are now set to continue their work-up cycle during ARG and MEU Exercise (ARG-MEUEX) and Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), both designed to certify the Blue-Green team for its upcoming regularly scheduled deployment in mid-2018.