US Navy’s Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Ohio (SSGN 726) made a brief stop near Okinawa, Japan, on Thursday for exercises with III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF).
The submarine, which is underway in the US 7th Fleet area of operations, tested a joint expeditionary concept in which Marines could safely embark aboard a submarine via a combat rubber raiding craft (CRRC).
In line with the Tri-Service Maritime Strategy, the exercise was part of ongoing III MEF-US 7th Fleet efforts to provide flexible, forward-postured and quick response options to regional commanders.
“Every time we train with our Marine Corps counterparts, it sharpens our ability to respond fluidly to regional challenges, deliver combat-tested capabilities and prevail in day-to-day competition, in crisis and in conflict,” said Capt. Kurt Balagna, commanding officer, Ohio (Gold). “My crew was fully invested in making this a successful event, and proving that this unconventional concept could be a viable option in our warfighting toolkit.”
“This training demonstrates the ability of Force Reconnaissance Marines in III MEF to operate with strategic US Navy assets,” said III MEF Force Reconnaissance Company Commanding Officer Maj. Daniel Romans.
Over the next several months, submarine force leaders will continue to explore joint training opportunities, focusing on integrated exercises that enable agile, responsive and scalable force employment across a spectrum of warfighting areas.
While USS Ohio is operating in the US 7th Fleet, sister ship USS Georgia is underway in the Middle East. It entered the Persian Gulf in December last year in wake of tensions with Iran, in a move rarely-publicized by the navy.
Armed with tactical missiles and equipped with superior communications capabilities, Ohio is able to conduct large-volume, short-notice strike missions and covertly deploy special operations forces.
Ohio is the fourth US Navy ship to bear the name, and is the first in her class of ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and guided-missile submarines (SSGNs). She was commissioned Nov. 11, 1981 and became the first of four Trident SSBNs to convert to SSGNs, completing her conversion Feb. 7, 2006.
Ohio and her sister ship, the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727), are both homeported at Naval Base, Kitsap in Bangor, Washington.