SAN DIEGO -- Members of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps with the Essex Amphibious Ready Group and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit returned to their homeport of San Diego following a successful deployment Friday.
More than 4,500 sailors and Marines returned from the Indo-Pacific, Middle East, Mediterranean and region of Africa to conduct maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts to support regional security, stability, and the free flow of maritime commerce.
“This deployment was a great example of dynamic force employment,” said Capt. Gerald Olin, commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 1. “We were successful on our deployment because we operated the way we trained. Our team was manned, trained and equipped successfully so that we were able to meet mission requirements in every fleet.”
The Essex Amphibious Ready Group includes the assault ship USS Essex and two amphibious docks, the USS Anchorage and the USS Rushmore. According to the Navy, the deployment was significant in that it was the first time the Marine Corps' F-35B Lightning II was deployed in combat.
"The Essex was embarked with the next generation of air assets," said Capt. Gerald Olin, the commander of the Navy's Amphibious Squadron. "The full integration of the Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II drastically enhanced the ARG/MEU lethality and proved to be a credible strike and defense capability. ... This Essex deployment perfectly demonstrated the promising future of aviation for the ARG/MEU teams."