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A landing craft air cushion-class hovercraft approaches Kin Blue, Okinawa, Japan, for a beach landing exercise, Oct. 27, 2015, during Blue Chromite 2016. Blue Chromite is a large-scale, cost effective on-island training event lead by 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Steven Tran

Naval Vessels Push Marine Amphibious Capabilities During Blue Chromite

27 Oct 2015 | Lance Cpl. Steven Tran 3rd Marine Division

Not every day can a Sailor say he’s ridden in a hovercraft. Not long ago, the hovercraft was close cousin of the Starship Enterprise, Millenium Falcon, and other vehicles of fictional lore. But during a logistics training exercise here today, Sailors with Shock Trauma Platoon, 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group discovered that the landing craft air cushion-class hovercraft is very much real.

 Two hovercrafts ferried the platoon, ten tactical vehicles and all equipment for a shock trauma treatment site, from White Beach to Kin Blue, Okinawa, today. The hovercrafts facilitated a logistics training event during Blue Chromite 2016, a large scale amphibious exercise led by 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

 Navy Chief Petty Officer Philip E. Phillips, an LCAC pilot with Naval Beach Unit 7, said driving the hovercraft is like controlling an air hockey puck.

 However, unlike an air hockey puck, a LCAC hovers by generating powerful air displacement. The LCAC can carry up to sixty tons and travel as fast as forty knots, said Phillips, who is originally from Riverside, California.

 Sgt. Russell S. Thompson, a landing support specialist with Combat Logistic Battalion 4, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, had never seen the hovercraft in operation before today.

“For me personally and a lot of my Marines, this is our first time getting firsthand experience with the LCACs and doing this specific type of operation,” said Thompson, who is originally from Pullman, Washington. “I think the LCAC exponentially increases our capabilities.”

Thompson, whose primary responsibility is to help organize troops and equipment arriving at expeditionary locations, said the presence of hovercraft helped his Marines understand the importance of their role in the grander scheme of amphibious operations.

“Having 7th Fleet nearby with their multitude of resources, including LCACs, absolutely increases the capability of our training and the amount of experience we’re able to achieve,” said Thompson.

 Until the U.S. military patents teleportation, Thompson can expect more help from his Navy brethren during amphibious operations around the world.