The White Beach Naval Facility is a staging area for Marines and their equipment based on Okinawa. This departure point allows utility landing craft and air-cushioned landing vehicles to ferry troops, vehicles and equipment to amphibious ships pier side or at sea.
The headquarters for Commander, Amphibious Group ONE, is based out of White Beach, Okinawa, Japan. The command also maintains a separate, smaller staff group, under the guidance of the Deputy Commander, based out of Sasebo in the southern portion of the island of Kyushu. Commander, Amphibious Group ONE (CPG-1) is responsible for conducting expeditionary warfare operations to support a full range of theater contingencies, ranging from humanitarian and disaster relief operations, to full combat operations. CPG-1 also provides oversight for the operations and planning, personnel, maintenance, logistics, training, and communications of units forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan. Being the Navy's only forward deployed amphibious assault warship, plying the waters between it's homeport of Sasebo, Japan and White Beach, Okinawa is a common and fairly ordinary event for USS Belleau Wood's crew. The 505th Quartermaster Battalion conducted a three-day Command Post Exercise 20-22 February 2001 at the 505th Compound at the White Beach Naval Facility. The battalion set up both their Tactical Operations Center and Administrations/Logistics Operations Center in preparation for a field training exercise next month and to determine the battalion strengths and weaknesses for providing fuel support for a large-scale deployment.
White Beach Area, which is located near the tip of Katsuren peninsula, has two piers. Nuclear powered warships and submarines frequently make port calls to this area. The facility is located in Katsuren town and Yonashiro town, with a land area of 1,568,000m^2. There are a total of 882 land owners, paid a yearly rental fee of 887 million yen. There are a total of 110 Japanese employees.
Service morale, welfare and recreation programs cater to all age groups. Because this is an isolated, overseas location, the services place more emphasis on recreational outlets, and try to give people based here permanently and on rotation a variety of things to do. At White Beach, for example, there are cabins, sailboats and jet skis. Located in Building 1096, the Recreation Center Office has everything you need for a great time at White Beach, including sports gear, beach cabanas with barbecue grills, covered picnic pavilions, basketball and tennis courts, a softball field, and many items for sale. The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) disembarked from USS Belleau Wood (LHA-3) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) at White Beach, Okinawa, 27 March 2000, having successfully completed its Special Operations Capable qualification Exercise 2000 (SOCEX 2000). The exercise tests the MEU's ability to rapidly respond to a variety of situations, and drives the MEU to utilize as many different aspects of Marine training as possible. Though the Marine Corps' other six MEUs re-qualify as SOC every 18 months, the 31st MEU re-qualifies every six months as new major subordinate elements rotate to the MEU.
The Marines and Sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and the USS Essex (LPD 2) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) deployed in September 2000 from the US Naval Facility White Beach on Okinawa to conduct multiple exercises. The Marines and Sailors participated in "Blue/Green Workups," an Amphibious Ready Group exercise (ARGEX) and a Special Operations Capable qualification exercise (SOCEX). In addition to these exercises, the Marines and Sailors also participated in Exercise Foal Eagle 2000 in Korea. The Blue/Green workups and ARGEX are training exercises designed to enhance fluidity and familiarization between the Marines of the MEU and the Sailors of the ARG. These evolutions are essential for maximizing the combined units' efficiency. Each of these exercises tested the Marines and Sailors by having them conduct multiple, often simultaneous, exercises to earn the "SOC-qual" title. Qualifying as Special Operations Capable certifies the MEU's ability to respond to real-world contingencies, such as Amphibious Operations, Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HADR), Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP), and Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEO). Following SOC qualification embarked aboard the ARG's newest flagship, USS Essex, the MEU sailed to the Republic of Korea to participate in Exercise Foal Eagle 2000. Essex is the largest amphibious ship in the ARG and replaced USS Belleau Wood (LHA 3).
The reconfiguration in White Beach, Okinawa was quite busy for USS Fort McHenry in November 2000. As the ship ended Special Operations Capable Exercise2000 and prepared to begin Exercise Foal Eagle. While a reconfiguration is a typical evolution for an amphibious ship like Fort McHenry, several factors complicated this one. One factor that complicated the reconfiguration was the speed with which it had to be done. Fort McHenry had to be in Pusan, South Korea in time to begin Exercise Neptune Thunder. With only one day to complete the onload, all hands had to work quickly and safely. Maintenance at the army pier at White Beach, Okinawa, meant Fort McHenry, USS Essex (LHD 2) and USS Juneau (LPD 10) could not be pierside together. So, Fort McHenry arrived a day before the other ships to offload the Marines and equipment from MSSG 31, which had been onboard for Special Operations Capable Exercise 2000, and were moving to the Juneau for Exercise Foal Eagle. The plan called for Fort McHenry to pull away from the pier and anchor while Juneau pulled pierside to begin offloading Marines and equipment from Marine Corps Battalion Landing Team 2/7 for Exercise Foal Eagle.
Expanding the use of this port facility has been tasked out to the one organization the Marine Corps have relied on for nearly 60 years, the Seabees. In 2001 the Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion-FOUR (NMCB-4), not only took on the assignment but complete several projects before they return to Port Hueneme, California in May. One of the busiest Seabee construction sites on Okinawa, the three projects at White Beach benefited the Navy/Marine Corps team upon their completion. The retaining wall prevents further erosion of a hillside overlooking the vehicle staging area and the PAVE staging area expanded the parking area for Marine vehicles waiting to be loaded aboard amphibious assault ships. The new sewer line handles water drainage around the main facility. The last thing the Marines need is to have soil and the pavement around the staging area and roadway erode, preventing them from getting to the debarkation area and doing their job. With the improvements being made at White Beach by the Seabees, the Marine Corps can respond to any contingency in less time with maximum effort. The retaining wall project alone saved Commander Fleet Activities Okinawa $300,000.