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    USS John P. Murtha Completes Exercise Freedom Banner 2021



    Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Curtis Spencer 

    USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26)

    SAN DIEGO (Sept. 10, 2021) The crew of amphibious transport dock ship USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26) returned to Naval Base San Diego following participation in the multifaceted Exercise Freedom Banner 2021, Sept. 10.

    Freedom Banner 2021 was an annual exercise that involved strategic projection of the Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF) and associated combat forces. This year’s iteration supported Large Scale Exercise (LSE) 2021, and was designed to refine how naval forces synchronize maritime operation across multiple Fleets in support of the joint force.

    “Freedom Banner showcased our ability to take the blue and green team into the fight with non-stop Landing Craft, Utility operations, flight operations and advanced basing,” said Capt. Gervy Alota, from San Diego, commanding officer, USS John P. Murtha. “We truly showcased the art of amphibious operations, the most epic mission set there is.”

    Naval Beach Group (NBG) 1, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 1, I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 268 and various additional Navy and Marine Corps elements embarked aboard John P. Murtha for the exercise.

    John P. Murtha’s participation ran from July 9 to Sept. 10, primarily on Guam and Tinian and in the surrounding waters. Sailors and Marines sought cohesive excellence throughout the evolution.

    “Exercises like Freedom Banner are important for Navy and Marine Corps integration,” said U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Donald Goodrich, from York, Maine, assigned to John P. Murtha via 5th Battalion 11th Marine Regiment (5/11). “It gets us back to our roots, and that alone is a huge benefit. We were able to work together, adapt together and succeed together.”

    All involved had the opportunity to make a difference during the complex engagement. Both senior and junior service members were able to perform evolutions never attempted before.

    “This was an outstanding experience,” said U.S. Marine Cpl. Nicole Abeyta, from Prewitt, N.M., assigned to John P. Murtha via Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 371. “We were able to operate in the mindset that we were mission ready and mission essential. Having the hands-on training in Tinian was something I’ve never experienced, and it was tremendous.”

    Those operating aboard the ship were also very involved during the evolution.

    “I really enjoyed being a part of shoring the two Mark 46 patrol boats into our welldeck,” said Seaman Joshua Hedgepath, from Newberry, S.C., assigned to John P. Murtha. “That is something that has never been done before in the history of the LPD class of ships. The things we did out here let people know that John P. Murtha is the best of the best.”

    John P. Murtha also had a total of 92 aircraft bounces during eight flight quarters with MV-22 Ospreys from VMM 268.

    Even in the face of a complex exercise, the crew was able to balance their day-to-day responsibilities with attaining multiple qualifications. In total, 327 personnel qualifications were successfully achieved and 47 Sailors earned their enlisted Surface Warfare Qualification during Freedom Banner 21.

    John P. Murtha, homeported in San Diego, is the 10th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship of the United States Navy and is named in honor of Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania.




    Date Taken: 09.10.2021
    Date Posted: 09.16.2021 12:39
    Story ID: 405407
    Location: SAN DIEGO, CA, US 
    Hometown: GUAM, GU
    Hometown: TINIAN, MP
    Hometown: NEWBERRY, SC, US
    Hometown: PREWITT, NM, US
    Hometown: SAN DIEGO, CA, US

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