PACIFIC OCEAN --
The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s maritime raid force boarded the cargo vessel ATLS to retake it from simulated pirates miles off Southern California's coast Oct. 1, while helicopters provided fire support overhead.
From USS Makin Island, the unit’s aviation combat element launched four of its skid-landing helicopters: a pair of AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters and two UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters. From USS New Orleans, the raid force was launched in a Navy small attack craft and Marine CH-46E helicopters.
The Marines searched the ship, apprehended actors portraying pirates, seized automatic weapons and returned the vessel to its owner.
“This is the type of joint mission that improves interoperability and provides the MEU with an exceptional maritime raid capability,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan Compton, the maritime raid force’s first sergeant. “The Marines decisive and thorough actions enabled them to complete their task and conduct a successful mission.”
The 11th MEU embarked the amphibious assault ship Makin Island, the amphibious transport dock New Orleans and the dock landing ship Pearl Harbor Sept. 28 in San Diego to participate in the MEU’s final two-week exercise before deploying in November.