Navy training with US Navy ahead of Bold Alligator 2012 Amphibious Exercise
Navy sailors from Assault Craft Unit Four (ACU4) are working with the
crew of the French amphibious vessel (LHD) Mistral (L9013) this week
to certify her well deck operations ahead of Bold Alligator 2012, a
multi-national amphibious exercise in the USA involving the navies of
the US, Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Bold Alligator 2012, which is scheduled for Jan. 30 through Feb. 12,
will be the largest amphibious exercise conducted by the Navy and Marine
Corps in at least the last ten years, according to the U.S. Marine Corps
Forces Command .
Mistral LHD training with US Navy LCAC
(video: WAVY-TV 10)
"We have worked with the French navy not only
here, but also in Toulon, France, to ensure our landing craft and the
Mistral's well deck are compatible," said Capt. Mike Ott, ACU4
commanding officer. "This exercise today is the culmination of
that planning and work we did overseas."
FS Mistral typically works with displacement crafts, and not American
LCACs. There are many challenges to face in the adaptation of a new
craft into the well deck including how the well deck accepts the new
craft; the level of water required for the different crafts; how to
handle lines; along with the loading and unloading, both on board and
on the beach.
"This provides the opportunity to ensure that both the French and
U.S. sailors understand differences in the crafts and can adapt correctly
to them, so we can execute any mission safely," said Ott. "It
is critical that we are able to conduct these operations, so that at
any time and place in the world we could join forces with our French
allies for any operation, such as Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya, with
little warning and little preparation and be 100 percent combat ready
in a very short time."
The two-day training evolution, held off the coast of Virginia, not
only strengthens interoperability between the two navies, it serves
as a rehearsal for operations slated during the upcoming Bold Alligator
2012, which begins next week.
"The biggest benefit of this operation is working together to bring
military power from the sea to the land whether by air or with amphibious
crafts," said Capt. Xavier Moreau, FS Mistral commanding officer.
"It is impossible for one navy to do everything and be everywhere
by itself. While working in coalitions, each navy brings different equipment
which increases assets such as carriers, amphibious ships, frigates
The first day of operations focused on certifying the crew and ship
to receive and operate LCACs. Second-day activities addressed outstanding
certification requirements and the dress rehearsal which included numerous
LCAC trips ashore from Mistral.
"The French Navy and the U.S. Navy must be able to work together
using our different equipment," added Moreau. "It is very
important to our navy, and we are happy to be here for this exercise."