USS GERMANTOWN, At Sea -- It’s not unusual for Marines and Sailors assigned to Marine Expeditionary Units to find themselves embarked on naval vessels for a significant amount of time during scheduled patrols. But their time on these ships is not a cruise to their destination - the Marines are on a floating, functional base of operations.
Company G., Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, and elements of Combat Logistics Battalion-31, both of the 31st MEU, recently left their Okinawa garrison for a regularly-scheduled patrol with Amphibious Squadron 11.
Space is limited, yet Marine units are anything but unoccupied in the confines of their ship. Even at sea, training is continuous.
“Constant training and constant preparedness is our rolling mission when at sea,” said Cpl. John D. Jaggers, a team leader with Company G., BLT 2/4, 31st MEU, and native of Louisville, Ky. “Our main function is that of a forward-deployed response unit, so to be doing anything but training and being prepared to head out at a moment’s notice would go against the whole reason we are here.”
With a strength of more than half a thousand, the Marine Corps presence on the USS Germantown (LSD-42) uses every part of the ship not being used by the Navy, from the smallest corner of the deck topside to the well deck in the bottom filled with amphibious assault vehicles.
The weeks that see the Marines ship-bound prove full of training, drill rehearsals and education within the ship’s small perimeter.
Two gyms on different decks of the ship provide physical training opportunities and the flight deck is open to runners when not in use. To keep the mind sharp, both Marines and Sailors teach classes daily covering topics from squad formations to military history. Marines rehearse missions by staging and loading military craft at a moment’s notice to ensure they maintain fast reaction times. Additionally, all gear and equipment undergo periodic maintenance and function-checks. All of this and much more is the daily routine for a shipboard Marine.
“Marines are known and even expected to do more with less, and the same goes for when we’re on ship,” said Lance Cpl. Alberto Morales, an embarkation specialist with CLB-31, 31st MEU, and native of Houston, Texas. “You don’t need a building dedicated to working out to be able to (physically train) just as you don’t need a huge classroom to conduct (classes). We do all that here, and sometimes more.”
The stringent schedule of gear checks, rehearsals, classes and physical training is more than a way to take up time. As the Marine Corps’ force in readiness for the Asia Pacific region, the 31st MEU is required to maintain a certain high standard.
“Overall amphibious readiness is a result of the whole-Marine concept,” said Staff Sgt. Michael W. Burkhart, a section leader in Co. G., BLT 2/4, 31st MEU, and native of Norman, Okla.
“Remaining proficient in things like physical fitness, combat tactics, and education keeps us at the top of our game. When we respond with little notice to a contingency, 100 percent is where we always need to be.”