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December 2001

17TH Edition

The New
Amphibious Navy

o you ever wonder if the Amphibious Navy  we all knew while serving on the Whetstone  is now obsolete and unusable in these modern days? Well, things may be more similar than you think. Read on-

ABOARD THE USS BONHOMME RICHARD - Any amphibious assault the U.S. military makes on terrorist strongholds might well begin on a ship like this one training off Southern California.

Big, boxy and lacking the massive grandeur of an aircraft carrier or the sleek lines of a missile-equipped destroyer or frigate, the big-deck amphibious assault ships are the backbone of the military's ability to bring combat troops, firepower and equipment ashore quickly virtually anywhere in the world.

"We get the job done, and we get the job done right," said Petty Officer Felix Choice.

Commissioned in 1998, the 844-foot-long, 41,500-ton Bonhomme Richard, based in San Diego, carries 1,500 combat Marines, 30 to 35 CH-46 helicopters, five Harrier vertical-lift attack aircraft, three air-cushioned landing craft and enough trucks and armored vehicles to provide short-term support for Marines ashore.

Like other big-deck amphibious ships, the Bonhomme Richard is the command ship for a three-vessel squadron called an amphibious ready group.

"Everybody knows that when there's trouble, the president asks, 'Where are the carriers?' " said Capt. Stanley De Geus, the ship's skipper. "Right after that, he asks, 'Where are the ready groups?' "

The Bonhomme Richard also has a 300-bed hospital, giving it more medical capability than any vessel except the Navy's hospital ships.

On  a Tuesday, Marines and sailors began an 18 day training mission to prepare for deployment somewhere in the eastern portion of the Pacific Ocean and beyond. Training includes helicopter and Harrier operations, fire drills, "mass-casualty" drills  and a mock assault on the beach at Camp Pendleton.

One of the first things the crew was taught was what to do if the ship is attacked by biological, nuclear or chemical weapons, a continuing concern amid reports that terrorists are attempting to acquire such weapons.

Even before the ship had cleared San Diego Harbor, Capt. Roif Yngve, the ship's executive officer, had taken to the public address system to tell sailors and Marines about the scrubbing showers that would be set up on deck to decontaminate everyone before they are allowed below decks A full drill will
be staged later in the training. )

Three ships similar to the Bonhomme Richard are already in or near the Middle East: the Bataan in the Mediterranean, the Pelelieu in the Indian Ocean and  the Essex off Japan.                   Tuesday, Marines and

(Continued on page 4)

Marion Goble
(941) 768-1449

1st Vice President
Jim Dunn
(858) 566-1745

2nd Vice President
L. E (Rusty) Draper
(361) 364-1917

Kay Goble

Membership Chairman
Tom Britt
(858) 578-8926

Reunion Chairman
Bob Young
(617) 545-4905

Marvin Watson
(402) 421-8957

Bill Martin
(281) 427-6828

Newsletter Editor
John Worman
(505) 437-9872

The Rolling Stone is a          Quarterly publication of the USS Whetstone LSD-27       Association, INC. The         Association is a non profit, historical and educational    organization dedicated to   promoting fraternal, civic, patriotic and historical        memories of those who served aboard.

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