USS New Orleans Completes CERTEX
USS New Orleans (LPD 18) returned to San Diego Oct. 12, after completing its final pre-deployment exercise in preparation for its upcoming deployment later this year.
New Orleans, alongside amphibious dock-landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), and embarked Marines assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) make up the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG).
Together, the group completed their certification exercise (CERTEX), a comprehensive training designed to test the Navy and Marine Corps' maritime and sea-to-shore capabilities.
During CERTEX, New Orleans was the primary combatant providing air and surface support for counter-piracy training. Using CH-46E helicopters and Navy small boats launched from New Orleans, the 11th MEU's Maritime Raid Force (MRF) simulated seizing a pirated merchant vessel. New Orleans provided communications support and served as a base for firepower from her 30mm cannon, as well as Marine snipers.
In addition to maritime security training, New Orleans also supported long-range helicopter raids and raids on high value targets which saw a continuous launching of four UH-1Y Venom helicopters carrying members of the MRF. A non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) was executed as well, rounding out the mission capabilities of the ARG.
Marines assigned to the 11th MEU's Battalion Landing Team also honed their warfighting skills and launched from New Orleans' well deck in amphibious assault vehicles to conduct a simulated mechanized raid by retaking a town overrun by hostile forces located at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Cmdr. Dennis Jacko, commanding officer of New Orleans, said that with the final certification, New Orleans is ready to deploy as part of the ARG or operate independently in disaggregated operations during their next deployment.
"This certification is the capstone event for both the Marines and the ARG in a robust scenario," he said. "USS New Orleans is more than ready to offer any theater commander a unique 'one stop shopping' in the form of embarked Marine air and ground assets that enable her to provide balanced fighting power, either as part of an Amphibious Ready Group, or as her own Marine Air Ground Task Force."
Commissioned in 2007, New Orleans is the second of the San Antonio-class transport dock ships. Its warfighting capabilities include a state-of-the-art command and control suite, substantially increased vehicle lift capacity, a large flight deck, and advanced ship survivability features that enhance its ability to operate in the littoral environment.
Article by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dominique Pineiro, Amphibious Squadron 5 Public Affairs