PACIFIC OCEAN –The Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) departed from Naval Base San Diego for deployment to the Western Pacific ocean Sept. 17.
The ARG’s deployment supports the Navy’s overall mission to protect maritime freedom, enhance global security, and foster and sustain cooperative relationships with its allies and international partners.
Peleliu ARG completed numerous evaluated exercises to be fully ready for deployment. Composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) and certification exercise (CERTEX) were performed during weeks of underway time. These exercises tested the ARG’s capabilities to conduct military and amphibious operations at sea and ashore. Additionally, ammunition was loaded aboard all ships, making the ARG fully equipped and mission ready.
“The Sailors in the ARG are trained and ready to support a wide range of military operations during this regularly scheduled deployment,” said Capt. Mark Sakaguchi, commander, Amphibious Squadron Three. “This deployment is the culmination of months of shipboard unit level and integrated training and is an opportunity for our Sailors and Marines to execute missions that support and defend our nation’s maritime freedom.”
During the past year, Peleliu ARG trained for real-life situations that the ships could encounter while operating overseas. Engineering, general quarters and damage control drills were some pre-deployment workups needed for readiness.
“It’s very important to conduct damage control drills before deployment because we do not have a fire department,” said Damage Controlman 1st Class David Favors, scene leader for the flying squad. “The ship is the fire department. We have to be able to combat all casualties alone.”
Damage Controlman 2nd Class Demetrick Westbrook adds, “How you train is how you fight. When you’re overseas, there’s no one to rely on but the ship. Peleliu is up to par when it comes to its damage control knowledge and fighting casualties.”
Sailors and Marines also spent time mentally preparing for this deployment in addition to the exercises and certifications needed for mission readiness.
Corporal Matthew Zeiler, from HMM-364 Purple Foxes, described how he prepared for his first deployment.
“I packed all my gear and checked it multiple times. With all the workups, I know exactly what to expect and I’m looking forward to it.”
While some Sailors and Marines are not leaving families and friends for the first time, departing for deployment never gets easy. Ship’s Serviceman 2nd Class Anderson Jean-Baptiste explained how this deployment will be the hardest of all six.
“The first two times I didn’t have my children, it was just me and my wife. This deployment, my daughter is older and can ask questions now, where before she was too young to know any better,” he said. “My wife and I try to explain why I have to leave and that it’s part of my job.”
Peleliu ARG is expected to conduct theater security operations in the 7th and 5th Fleet areas of operations. The mission of amphibious ships is to deliver embarked Marine landing forces to locations ashore and provide humanitarian assistance, civil support, non-combatant evacuations, peace operations, recovery operations, disaster reliefs and counter-piracy.
Peleliu ARG consists of a command element, Amphibious Squadron Three, amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5), amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore ( LSD 47), and amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20) and has the 15th MEU embarked throughout the three ships.