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15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Conducts Historic ACV Ship-to-Shore Operations in Okinawa



15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Conducts Historic ACV Ship-to-Shore Operations in Okinawa

OKINAWA, Japan – The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) marked a significant milestone by conducting the first overseas ship-to-shore operations with Amphibious Combat Vehicles (ACVs) on June 24, 2024, at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan.

Elements of the 15th MEU, aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), arrived at White Beach on June 18 for a port visit and to conduct sustainment training.

During the June 24 training, Marines and Sailors of Alpha Company, Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/5, 15th MEU, embarked on the ACVs from the well deck of Harpers Ferry. Safety boats from the 3rd Expeditionary Operations Training Group assisted by transferring personnel to their boats and back to the pier, simulating emergency egress procedures.

After the personnel transfer, the ACV Platoon transited through the boat basin to come ashore at White Beach for maintenance.

“This was fairly standard training for us, but I’m proud it also represented the first overseas ship-to-shore employment of ACVs,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Nick Freeman, commanding officer of BLT 1/5, 15th MEU. “We’ll continue to train at other locations in the months ahead, using a deliberate approach, capturing useful data and lessons learned, and ultimately sharpening our understanding of how to best employ the ACV in its intended environment—embarked with our forward-deployed ARG/MEUs.”

High-Level Military Engagement

In the days leading up to the ACV operations, commanders from III Marine Expeditionary Force, 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Task Force 76, and the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade of the Japanese Self Defense Force, along with other commands, visited the 15th MEU aboard Harpers Ferry on June 20. The visit included tours of the amphibious combat vehicles, the ship’s well deck, the ACV simulator, and a demonstration of an unmanned hydrographic sensor. Some VIPs also observed the ACV egress training.

Expert Exchange and Future Training

Marines and Sailors of Alpha Company, BLT 1/5, are set to host Marines of Battalion Landing Team 1/4 from the 31st MEU at White Beach for an expert exchange about embarked expeditionary ACV operations. The hands-on exchange will cover well deck operations, vehicle handling, maintenance, embarked troops, and amphibious operations.

The 15th MEU’s Reconnaissance Company will also collaborate with other U.S. military units in the area to conduct integrated maritime interdiction operations, including a simulated visit, board, search, and seizure mission using small boats to board Harpers Ferry and clear key objective areas.

Leadership Commentary

“Although this was a routinely-scheduled port visit, both Harpers Ferry and the 15th MEU took advantage of the time to conduct sustainment training to enhance their readiness and cross-train with other Navy and Marine Corps units to strengthen our force. It was incredible to see the ACVs in operation, as they truly are a force multiplier in this area of operations,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Chris Stone, commander, Task Force 76 and Expeditionary Strike Group 7.

Strategic Significance

The 15th MEU operates under the command and control of Commander, Task Force 76, which is employed by the U.S. 7th Fleet to cooperate with allies and partners in maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific. As the U.S. 7th Fleet’s primary Navy advisor on amphibious matters, CTF 76 conducts expeditionary warfare operations supporting a full range of theater contingencies, from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to full combat operations.

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