USS Ogden (LPD 5), the Navy’s oldest active amphibious ship
, is currently serving as the Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) for the multinational maritime coalition operating in the North Persian Gulf
As the AFSB for Commander, Task Group (CTG) 158.1, the 41-year-old amphibious transport dock is providing logistical support for the various forces that are protecting Iraq’s territorial waters and oil platform
s, as well as serving as a training platform for Iraqi sailors and marines.
“The crew is having a wonderful time,” said Cmdr. James Hruska, Ogden’s commanding officer. “Everyone understands the importance of keeping these waters safe and the global trade moving through this area.”
On the bridge, Ogden Sailors work and stand watches alongside Iraqi naval officers. The officers are serving as a liaison for planning and communicating with Iraq’s five Predator-class patrol boats that come alongside Ogden for fuel, food, and crew training.
With about two weeks on station, the Ogden watchstanders say the training and experience have been working out well.
“There’s a little bit of a learning curve,” said Lt. Micah Brewer, “but they seem to be well integrated, and they are really eager and willing to learn the procedures to defend the oil platforms. This is their territory and their economy. Their livelihood is in the oil platforms, and they want to be a part of the protection there.”
When the Iraqis are not standing watches, they are training. Ogden’s Damage Control Training Team (DCTT) coordinator said that the Ogden crew is one of the finest he has ever served with and a great example for the Iraqis aboard.
“We’re providing a good service for the Iraqis, and this will help get them back on their feet,” said Chief Damage Controlman (SW) James Strickell. “We’re showing them how the U.S. Navy trains and operates; we're giving them something to base their Navy off of.”
Ogden’s crew members say they are very happy to play an active role in the shaping of the Iraqi navy, as well as participate in the multinational coalition that is protecting the cornerstone of Iraq’s economy.
“That’s what we’re here for,” said Damage Controlman 1st Class (SW) Gary Wise. “It’s good for our guys on their first Western Pacific [deployment]. They’ll look back and be able to say, ‘I actually helped protect that. I actually helped Iraq get the money they need for their future.’”
Commissioned in 1965, Ogden will decommission in early 2007. While on her final deployment, Ogden and other Navy and coalition ships will continue to help the Iraqis protect the region.
Ogden, as a part of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, is deployed in support of maritime security operations (MSO) in the North Persian Gulf. MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations.
By Journalist 2nd Class Zack Baddorf, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs