Bring forth the tanks, Ssang Yong 14
DOGUE, South Korea -- The final large, steel pieces of the puzzle are coming into place. A massive mattress-like ship hauls those pieces ashore, continuing the twin dragons’ saga.
U.S. Marines with Company C, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve, and sailors from Naval Beach Unit 7, deliver tanks for exercise Ssang Yong 2014 at White Beach April 3.
“With its capabilities, tanks are a valuable asset to have on the battlefield and in this exercise,” said U.S. Marine Cpl. Nathaniel S. York, an M1A1 tank crewman with 4th Tank Battalion. “For some, being able to participate in this exercise is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Ssang Yong, meaning twin dragons, exercises the interoperability and combined capability of ROK and U.S. Navy and Marine Corps forces. The exercise provides valuable military training based on realistic requirements and missions expected of ROK and U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula.
The M1A1 Abrams tank is a large logistical piece for Ssang Yong. A variety of training events in Ssang Yong will test the tanks’ short-long range fire support as well as the U.S. and foreign allies’ ability to maneuver under the support.
Three U.S. Navy Landing Craft Air Cushion ships transported more than five tanks from the USS Ashland to shore. Only being able to hold one tank at a time, it takes approximately 30 minutes to complete a round trip with the LCAC.
“Transporting these tanks keeps the mission going to improve interoperability between U.S. and ROK forces which helps the stability of the region,” said U.S. Navy Senior Chief Eric S. Crafton, the craft master of Naval Beach Unit 7, who takes the helm when delivering equipment via landing craft.
Three U.S. Navy Landing Craft Air Cushion ships transported six tanks from the USS Ashland to shore during the entire evolution. It only takes a matter of minutes to deliver the 67 ton tanks from ship to shore, according to Crafton.
The ability to stage and deliver large military equipment ashore from the sea provides the U.S. and its allies with a crucial crisis response option, without the need for access to seaport or an airport infrastructure.
For years, NBU 7 has been assisting with the logistical aspect of Ssang Yong but is proud to be part of this year because of the scale, according to U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Louis K. Deforest, a LCAC engineer with the unit.
Transporting the tanks from ship to shore helps demonstrate the Navy/Marine Corps’ responsive amphibious and expeditionary capabilities from the sea.