This blog post was written by Navy Capt. Humberto L. Quintanilla II, Commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) Five, embarked aboard the Navy’s newest amphibious assault ship, USS Makin Island (LHD 8). The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group departed Nov. 14 for a seven-month deployment.
Ahoy to all! As commodore for PHIBRON Five, it is with great pleasure that I have the extraordinary opportunity to lead and command one of the finest maritime elements in today’s Navy. The healthy debate as to the necessity or value that an Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) brings to our Navy has continued since its inception many decades ago and without a doubt will continue for quite some time.
As this debate continues, there is very little doubt as to the foreign policy value of the missions that ARG’s have been known for. Today’s ARG’s are no longer simply used as a modern version of a “fleet in being” or boiled down to maritime basing platforms for getting a maritime force from the sea to shore. Rather, ARG capabilities are being challenged to increase their current capabilities as an answer to present day and future global requirements and threats. No other maritime element within our Navy’s arsenal can effectively address the challenges of presence and sustainability, and the capability spectrum of lethality to humanitarian assistance resident in the Sailors and Marines who represent America where they make landfall.
Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief - We only have to review the recent, naturally caused, devastations that so profoundly affected the countries of Indonesia, Haiti, and Japan to subscribe to the need to respond to those stricken by chance natural disasters. Our nation’s ability to deliver first responder Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) in a timely manner, with little or no warning through the Navy-Marine Corps team, continues to fulfill our national policy of global humanitarian aid to those in need and within reach. With each disaster response, our ARG humanitarian expertise and skill set capabilities continue to improve as we learn from the experience gained from these tragic events. Our actions reinforce our international efficacy and our demonstrated ability to bring emergency resources in times of domestic or global need.
Maritime Security – Working in concert with the elements of the Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), our capability is unmatched to rapidly deploy Sailors and Marines to conduct operations from the sea and air. Our ability to provide an unchallengeable peace-keeping force from over the horizon in our nation’s defense or in support of our allies has never faltered. Recognized as the preeminent force-multiplying variable by most global maritime forces, the value of American expeditionary “boots on the ground” continues to be indisputable.
Power Projection – Since World War II, our nation’s need to deter conflict or to challenge those who seek to harm us, or the global community, has never been so prevalent. Whether it is to support our troops at war in Afghanistan or to answer the call for assistance by nations experiencing civil or political unrest throughout the world, placing continued investment in the enhancement of our exceptionally well performing maritime and expeditionary forces must be our focus.
Counter-piracy – With the emergence of modern day piracy comes an increased need to maintain high seas commerce and open shipping lanes. The Navy and Marine Corps Amphibious Ready Group is the only maritime element that can deploy a mobile, flexible, and versatile land & sea power projection combination that can operate independently, or in concert, as the one cohesive maritime force scalable to the needs of the littoral environment.
Increased Sustainability – As the global demand for fossil fuels continues to grow more expensive so, too, does our nation’s Navy need to operate more efficiently, in all areas. Increased fuel cost directly impact our ability to sustain our missions while maintaining our organizational policy of fiduciary stewardship of the financial resources provided to us by our nation. New technologies have given us the ability to operate under these constraints more economically and grant us more latitude and flexibility to operate more efficiently. The introduction of hybrid engineering solutions to LHD’s such as the USS Makin Island (LHD 8) allow us to go further, faster, stay longer, and do all of it more cost effectively than ever before. This new capability offers further validation of our need and responsibility to develop a more agile and environmentally friendly amphibious force.
As the Makin Island ARG sails on its maiden deployment today built around the most unique LHD in our Navy, my thoughts and wishes go out to all the Sailors, Marines, and families of the USS Makin Island (LHD 8), USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), and the USS New Orleans (LPD 18). I am proud of each and every one of them for their tireless efforts and unwavering dedication to our country and steadfast commitment to their warrior trade. It is because of them, and their hard work, that we have met our nation’s call and are ready and prepared to meet the challenges in the coming months ahead.
This video, produced in October 2009 just prior to Makin Island‘s commissioning, gives you an overview of ship capabilities: