By MC2 Lyle Wilkie
Iwo Jima Amphibious Readiness Group
The amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) participated in a strait transit exercise with the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), Nov. 21.
New York completed the exercise as part of its Combined Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) to prepare for its upcoming deployment.
"At some point during our deployment we will transit through a heavily trafficked and possibly dangerous strait," said Lt. Bradley Feige, New York's operations officer.
The aim of the exercise is to ensure the ARG can steam in formation through narrow channels of international water to expand its presence in the maritime domain.
"Three big ships operating at high speed very close to each other requires you to be on your toes," said Lt. j.g. Blake Pauley, officer of the deck during the strait transit. "You also need to have your head on a swivel. There are many interested parties interacting with our vessels, so it is important to keep your cool, take a step back, and do your best to observe all that is happening around you. It's an ultimate test on multitasking and prioritization."
A strait transit integrates all departments of the ship. To perform a strait transit, many hours of planning and preparations are put into the execution of this complex event.
"This exercise tested each individual watch stander from those on the bridge, down to the engineering spaces," said Feige. "While transiting with USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) and other assets coordination can be a challenge. Through deliberate planning we were able to successfully complete the exercise."
"No one knows what a future deployment will entail, but practicing evolutions with several dynamic events involved really stretches your abilities and gets your team in the mindset you need before you head overseas," said Pauley.
New York, components of the Iwo Jima ARG and the 26th MEU are conducting a Combined COMPTUEX that is the culmination of training for the Navy-Marine Corps team and will certify them for their upcoming deployment.
The Iwo Jima ARG embarks the 26th MEU and is comprised of the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima, New York, Oak Hill, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22, components of Naval Beach Group (NBG) 2 and the embarked staff of PHIBRON 4.