Throughout late July 2007, the U.S. A Navy and British Royal Navy took part in Joint Task Force Exercise 07-2, also known as Operation Bold Step. The exercise took place off the southern U.S coast and offered the two nations a number of opportunities to demonstrate and test military interoperability. Naval forces involved in the exercise included assets from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) Carrier Strike Group, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) Carrier Strike Group, and the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, known affectionately as "Lusty." During the exercise, the British carrier operated 14 U.S. AV-8B Harriers alongside Royal Navy Sea King helicopters. A number of international "firsts" occurred during and immediately prior to the exercise when, as pictured here, Illustrious became the first foreign ship to embark a U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. The British carrier marked another first when Sergeant Major Courtney Kyle Curtis became the first U.S. Marine in history to reenlist on board a foreign warship. An audience of hundreds of U.S. Marines and British officers witnessed the historic event.
By Eric Wertheim