Exercise Dawn Blitz 2017 on-board USS Essex LHD-2










Exercise Dawn Blitz is an annual scenario-driven amphibious exercise designed to train and integrate the staffs of Expeditionary Strike Group 3 and 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade. This Exercise started from 10/20 to 10/30 and encompasses international participants including Japan, Peru, Chile and Mexico. The exercise takes place at sea off the coast of Southern California and will involve participation from ships including the amphibious assault ship USS Essex, the amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage, the amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore and the guided missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer.









This Article include coverage on-board USS Essex LHD-2 air operations for Dawn Blitz Ex.  USS Essex is the 2nd ship of the WASP class amphibious assault ship . This is the new class of LHD that was derived from the earlier Tarawa class which added Jet operations ( AV-8B  Harrier) and LCAC ( Landing Craft Air Cushion) to its capability. Depending on specific missions, USS Essex can carry the following Air assets as shown break down for specific mission complements:


  • Standard Complement:
  • 6 AV-8B Harrier II  or
  • 6 F-35B Lightning II
  • 4 AH-1W/Z Super Cobra/Viper
  • 12 MV-22B Osprey
  • 4 CH-53E Super Stallion
  • 3–4 UH-1Y Venom
  • Assault Mission
  • 22+ MV-22B Osprey
  • Sea Control Mission
  • 20 AV-8B
  • or
  • 20 F-35B Lightning II
  • 6 SH-60F/HH-60H

also supporting the ground assets USS Essex have a compliment of 1894  personnel of US Marine Expeditionary Unit ( MEU ) which can consists of 5x M1A2 Abrams MBT, up to 25 AAVP-7A1, 8x M198  howitzers, 68 trucks and 12 other supporting vehicles. An internal monorail is being use to move cargo and equipment to the well deck.

For this Ex, 3 air units was covered on board USS Essex






F-35B Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 Wake Island Avengers based at MCAS Yuma , AZ







V-22 Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 (VMM-166) Sea Elk based at MCAS Miramar, CA









CH-53E Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361 (HMH-361)  Flying Tigers based at MCAS Miramar, CA


Special thanks to

Major Rachel Nolan, PAO USMC

Lt. Laura Price, PAO USN


Photograph by Tom Lee

Article by Dave Chng and Tom Lee