OKINAWA, Japan – The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) departed Okinawa, Japan Jan. 29 after onloading components of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Jan. 27-28.
The ARG’s deployment throughout the Western Pacific region will include a series of bilateral military and maritime training exercises designed to build relationships and enhance operational readiness between the U.S. and its partner nations.
“The purpose of this deployment is to exhibit forward presence,” said Capt. Bradley Lee, Commander, Amphibious Squadron 11. “We want to show our partners in this region that we are here to help, and have the assets to handle almost anything.”
Amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver (LPD 9), and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) embarked more than 2,200 Marines during the onload. Sailors and Marines teamed up and loaded 150 vehicles and 2100 short-tons of equipment in less than 48 hours.
“The onload is new for everyone on this crew,” said Gunnery Sgt. Steven R. Jones, Essex’s senior combat cargo assistant. “We finished ahead of schedule, which is rare with a new crew. For a ship this size, it usually takes three days to load, but this time it took half the time.”
Amid exercises involving the militaries of long standing allies, port visits will provide Sailors and Marines the opportunity to lend a helping hand to local communities through community service projects.
“We have a great crew of Sailors and now a full load of capable Marines,” said Lee. “We have a lot planned for this deployment and stand ready to respond to any unforeseen events.”
The Essex ARG reports to Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Richard Landolt, who is headquartered on Okinawa, Japan.