Friday, 12 May 2017

French military vessel runs aground Apra Harbor; exercises canceled

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Multiple agencies are now involved in investigating the accident.

Guam - Today should have been the start of the French-led exercise, Jeanne D’Arc, but a damaged vessel has put the event on hold.

Earlier this week, a press release from Joint Region Marianas announced the French-led Jeanne D’Arc Multinational Exercise, to strengthen strategic partnerships between Japan, France, the U.K., and the U.S., as well as to enhance readiness to respond to crises in the region. However, during a training exercise earlier this morning, a landing craft utility, or LCU, impacted the sea floor in Apra Harbor ran aground near Reserve Craft Beach and sustained damages.

This morning, Chief of Staff of Joint Region Marianas, CAPT. Jeff Grimes, told media, "The vessel that did run aground was able to return to port under its own power. From our initial assessment, it has damage to one of its two propellers. There were no personal injuries, and there was no release of petroleum or other hazardous constituents to the environment. I have directed that we stopped all operations associated with this exercise until we conduct a further assessment of the situation as we gather all the facts."

The training exercise was supposed to have occurred all week in waters surrounding Guam and Tinian. Maj. Tim Patrick, Public Affairs Officer of Marine Corps Activity Guam, explained the importance of the exercise, calling it “a multinational marvel,” and cleared any misconceptions of amphibious operations.

"A lot of times when people think ‘amphibious landing,’ what immediately comes to mind is Incheon, Normandy, D-Day, the battle for Guam, and although that’s definitely part of it, amphibious operations cover the entire range of military operations. If you were to do some humanitarian assistance or disaster relief, like we did about a year and a half or two years ago with Typhoon Soudelor, you have to have an amphibious capability. And that’s what this mission brings to Guam today," Maj. Patrick told PNC. "Just the United States Navy and Marine Corps team, in the past decade, we’ve had more than 100 real world operations that involved amphibious landings, and they weren’t all combat. Many of them were disaster relief, humanitarian assistance, show of force, partnership exercises, but it runs the gamut from helping people to all-out combat. It’s a big deal for everybody involved because not only are we talking about the difficulty of amphibious operations, but we’re talking about doing that kind of operation with four different countries. That involves language barriers, the inoperability of equipment, techniques and procedures. You’re taking something that’s already inherently difficult and complicated, and we’re working with our partnership nations, and it gets even more complicated. So, it’s a marvel that this actually gets done, and they’re doing a pretty good job."

Two British helicopters were also supposed to take part in the training exercises, but all parts of the training have been cancelled until further notice.

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