News: USS San Antonio proves its compatibility with coalition forces
Story by Lance Cpl. Kyle N. Runnels
ABOARD USS SAN ANTONIO, At Sea – A French landing craft, engin de débarquement amphibie rapide or EDAR, arrived aboard the USS San Antonio during a recovery training event for Exercise Bold Alligator 2012 on Feb. 4.
The EDAR is a newly approved French landing craft, which will be used for assaults, transports and recoveries.
French Marine Nationale Lt. Alex Nichols, the force protection officer aboard the French ship Mistral, was aboard San Antonio a day prior to the EDAR’s landing to conduct pre-inspections in preparation for the EDAR coming aboard.
“We had their liaison folks come over early,” said Cmdr. Neil Koprowski, commanding officer of the USS San Antonio. “It allowed (our) team to ask a lot of questions and get a lot of answers and to also break down the language barrier. What we have learned is that we have a lot in common in how we do operations. The techniques and the communications and the way we do things are very similar.”
Nichols said the operation was important because it helped both services look at their international operability. He said it showed how compatible French equipment was and how well both countries can work together.
The inspection that took place before the EDAR arrival was crucial because it was the first naval operation the EDAR took part of, according to Nichols. It was also the biggest craft that was recovered by the San Antonio.
“We have about 28 feet of clearance in our well,” said Koprowski, “The EDAR came in at about 23 feet so there was some concern about that height, and there may have been an issue. Watching the craft master come in, I knew and I felt very confident when he was making his approach, that this was going to be successful.“
The opportunity to recover the EDAR put the San Antonio to the test and showed what the ship is capable of.
“Proof of concept shows we can embark and debark various craft,” said Koprowski. “We can obviously do the landing craft utilities and landing craft, air cushions, but knowing we can do the EDAR and understanding how her propulsions system works and what her capabilities and limitations are and showing she fits in the well, we can easily do operations with our coalition partners, often with great success.”
Exercise Bold Alligator 2012 allowed the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps to showcase the advantages of naval seabasing. The success of the USS San Antonio further proved the advantages of Navy and Marine Corps amphibious operations by demonstrating the ability to support coalition forces as well.