GULF OF THAILAND -- The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) joined its sister ships USS Germantown (LSD 42) and USS Tortuga (LSD 46) off the coast of Thailand to take part in exercise Cobra Gold 2013 (CG 13), Feb. 10. Cobra Gold is a Thai-U.S. co-sponsored multinational joint exercise that includes forces from the U.S., Kingdom of Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The exercise is designed to demonstrate the ability of the involved militaries to rapidly deploy a joint task force to conduct combined operations at sea and ashore.
"It's a great honor to take part in these exercises," said Capt. Cathal O'Connor, commander, Amphibious Squadron ELEVEN. "Exercises like Cobra Gold demonstrate our ability to operate forward and our readiness to execute any mission. At the same time, we strengthen the personal and professional relationships that enable our Naval forces to fight and win in a coalition environment. Because it's only through teamwork and regularly operating together that we fully harness the knowledge, talent and imagination that exist in this diverse multinational force."
Cobra Gold 2013, in its 32nd iteration, demonstrates U.S. commitment toward regional partnership, prosperity, and security in the Asia-Pacific region and showcases the Navy and Marine Corps team with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked aboard the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG).
"These exercises emphasize working together for a common goal," said Col. John Merna, commanding officer, 31st MEU. "The events included in the exercise increase mission readiness in the Western Pacific and enable participating nations to be more capable in response to crises." The U.S. and the Kingdom of Thailand have been working together for 180 years. CG 13 is the latest in a continuing series of exercises designed to promote peace and security in the Western Pacific.
Four Royal Thai Navy and Marine Corps officers have been embarked aboard Bonhomme Richard since Feb. 2 to assist with the planning of CG 13. "It has been a pleasure having the Thai officers on board," said Capt. Daniel Dusek, Bonhomme Richard's commanding officer. "They are both professional and knowledgeable. The officers and crew of the Bonhomme Richard look forward to working closely with our Thai counterparts throughout the exercise continuing to build on an already strong regional partnership." Commander Amphibious Squadron ELEVEN, 31st MEU and Bonhomme Richard ARG report to Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, headquartered in White Beach, Okinawa, Japan.