The U.S. Navy Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47), with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), arrived in Colombo, Sri Lanka, for a scheduled port visit Dec. 21.
During the visit, Sailors and Marines will have opportunities to explore the local area and visit historical sites in Sri Lanka.
Part of a growing U.S.-Sri Lanka naval partnership, the visit marks the second port visit by a ship assigned to the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) following USS Anchorage’s visit to Trincomalee, Sri Lanka in August. Additionally the visit follows the Sri Lankan Navy’s inaugural participation in exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), which concluded Aug. 2, as well as exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Sri Lanka, held for the first time last year.
“Strengthening our partnership with Sri Lanka is important to our Navy and Marine Corps team and increases our interoperability and combined proficiency,” said Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet. “We also welcome the opportunity during this port visit to learn more about our teammates, visit historical sites and explore the local area.”
Cmdr. Robert Tryon, commanding officer of Rushmore, said Sailors and Marines are excited to be a part of the continued role in continuing to grow the U.S.-Sri Lanka naval partnership.
“The embarked Sailors and Marines are enthusiastic for the opportunity to experience all that Sri Lanka has to offer,” said Tryon. “We are excited for the opportunity to continue to build upon USS Anchorage’s port visit to Trincomalee in August.”
During the visit, key leader engagements between senior leadership of Rushmore, the 13th MEU and the Sri Lankan Navy will continue to build the foundation the mutual understanding to increase interoperability between the U.S. and Sri Lanka, including the extensive humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR) capabilities brought to bear by Rushmore.
Sri Lanka hosted an air logistics hub in August when Anchorage (LPD 23) visited Trincomalee and successfully supported the Essex ARG as it transited the western boundary of the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. Earlier this month, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) also established a logistics hub in Sri Lanka to receive support, supplies and services at sea.
The temporary air logistics hub concept allows for the use of an airstrip and storage facilities to receive large-scale shipments to move out in various directions in smaller shipments, allowing ships to continue operating at sea by receiving the right material at the right place and time. The hub can also be established to provide expeditionary logistics support during HADR missions.
Rushmore, which is part of the Essex ARG, and the 13th MEU are deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to support regional stability, reassure partners and allies and maintain a presence postured to respond to any crisis ranging from humanitarian assistance to contingency operations.
U.S. Navy Amphibious Squadron One