OCEANSIDE — More than 5,000 sailors and Marines of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group arrived off the coast of Southern California this morning and will conclude a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet areas of operation.
Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked aboard the ships of the ready group will disembark at Camp Pendleton.
USS Makin Island, USS San Diego and USS Somerset will return to port at Naval Base San Diego following the offload. A contingent of USMC personnel will remain aboard the ships for the pier side arrival.
“I am so proud of the resilience and strength of character our sailors and Marines displayed while serving our nation across four different fleets,” said Capt. Henry Kim, Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group commander. “Despite the additional challenges of protecting a COVID-free bubble within the ARG, our Blue-Green Team determinedly exemplified the mottos of all three ships, ‘Gung Ho!’ `Stay Classy!’ and ‘Let’s Roll!”’
The group is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island and amphibious transport dock ships USS San Diego and USS Somerset.
It departed Nov.10, after completing a pre-deployment sequester and back-to-back at-sea exercises in October.
“The 15th MEU and Makin Island ARG deployed during an unprecedented pandemic and demonstrated the ability of the Navy and Marine Corps team to successfully and safely execute operations in a COVID-19 environment,” said Col. Fridrik Fridriksson, 15th MEU commanding officer. “I am so incredibly proud of the professionalism, toughness and mental resiliency demonstrated by our Marines and sailors.”
During the deployment, sailors and Marines supported Operation Octave Quartz in Somalia, Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria, theater amphibious combat rehearsals in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and Exercise Northern Edge 2021 in Alaska.
The ARG conducted expeditionary strike force operations with the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal in the South China Sea. ESF operations are intended to demonstrate U.S. capability “to quickly aggregate an integrated naval force to operate all-domain warfare anywhere international law allows,” a Navy statement reads.
The ARG-MEU conducted more than 10,000 hours of flight operations, 6,800 launch and recoveries and traveled more than 135,000 nautical miles of open ocean and restricted water transits.
“This deployment has been operationally diverse — from operating in the heat during Operation Octave Quartz to the cold weather for Northern Edge,” said Capt. Tom Ulmer, Makin Island commanding officer. “We have sailed independently as well as formed expeditionary strike forces with partners, allies and other U.S. forces including the French carrier, Charles de Gaulle and USS Theodore Roosevelt strike groups.
“We have conducted operations in all warfare areas while building a strong Makin Island / 15th MEU team — Team Raider — that excelled in all of our challenges — including overcoming COVID,” Ulmer continued. “I am very proud of all our sailors and Marines for their hard work and dedication. We are excited to be home to reunite with family and friends.”