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Sailors set to return after ISIS combat mission

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SAN DIEGO — Sailors and Marines of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group will return home to San Diego over the next couple of days, following a seven-month deployment, the Navy announced Monday.

On Tuesday, the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, Detachment 2, will return to Naval Air Station North Island. On Wednesday, the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island, dock landing ship USS Comstock and amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego will arrive at Naval Base San Diego, carrying troops of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

After setting sail from San Diego July 25, the sailors and Marines of the Makin Island ARG conducted strikes on Islamic State targets in the Middle East, moved a team of National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration researchers out of the path of a tropical storm near Hawaii, and took part in numerous exercises.

“We’ve had a very intense deployment that required us to execute multiple mission sets simultaneously for long periods of time,” said Capt. Steve McKone, commander of Amphibious Squadron 5.

“The superb professionalism and work ethic of all members of the ARG/MEU team ensured we met and exceeded the mark every time,” he said. “I know these sailors and Marines are excited to be home.”

During the deployment, the ARG transited nearly 35,000 nautical miles, flew about 3,100 sorties and logged nearly 5,020 flight hours. Amphibious craft completed over 4,000 passenger transfers and moved more than 90,000 tons of equipment to and from the shore, according to the Navy.

“The sailors and Marines on this ship performed exceptionally well during this deployment,” said Makin Island commanding officer Capt. Jon Rodgers. “This deployment marked the first for more than 65 percent of the crew. The teamwork was exceptional!”

The deployment was the second for the Makin Island and the first for the San Diego.

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