By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Sykes
The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) arrived at Laem Chabang, Thailand, Feb. 11, for a scheduled port visit and participation in Exercise Cobra Gold 2018 (CG18).
Bonhomme Richard arrives just ahead of the CG 18 opening ceremony scheduled to take place Feb. 13., which will mark the beginning of one of the Indo-Pacific region’s largest multinational exercises.
Co-hosted by the Kingdom of Thailand and the United States, CG18 is an annual exercise designed to advance regional security and ensure effective response to regional crisis by exercising a robust multinational force from nations sharing common goals and security commitments in the region.
“We look forward to again working with our Thai and regional allies during this year’s exercise, as well as some well-deserved liberty for the crew in Thailand” said Capt. Larry McCullen, commanding officer of Bonhomme Richard. “It’s been a few years since Bonhomme Richard has participated in Cobra Gold, so it’s good to be back in the area, and working with our Indo-Asia Pacific partners and allies, training to ensure we keep our skills sharp and can accomplish or nations’ goals together.
CG18 is the 37th iteration of the exercise and will focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Among participating nations are the Kingdom of Thailand, the United States of America, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Japan, Singapore and Indonesia.
Bonhomme Richard’s participation in CG18 will include working alongside Royal Thai Navy ships and conducting a range of amphibious operations that will enhance tactical expertise of participants and practice combined capabilities to respond to contingencies.
Prior to Bonhomme Richard’s arrival to Laem Chabang, equipment and vehicles, of the 3d Marine Division (MARDIV), debarked in preparation for CG18. The AH-1Z Vipers and UH-1Y Hueys, attached to the "Gunfighters" of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 369, CH-53E Super Stallions, assigned to the "Wolfpack" of Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 466 and amphibious assault vehicles (AAV), assigned to the 3rd A Battalion, which all operate under the 3d MARDIV, will play a key role in the upcoming exercises.
During the port visit at Laem Chabang, Bonhomme Richard Sailors and Marines will host distinguished visitors on the ship, participate in community relations projects and have the opportunity to experience Thai culture and local sights.
Bonhomme Richard is on regularly scheduled patrol in the Indo- Pacific region supporting security and stability in the region.