USS ESSEX, At sea (Sept. 1, 2010) – The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) departed Sasebo, Japan Sept. 1, for a regularly scheduled deployment throughout the Western Pacific region. The annual patrol will feature a series of bilateral maritime training exercises designed to build relationships and enhance operational readiness between U.S. and Asian-Pacific partner nations.
"We had a very busy, but highly successful in-port period this summer,” said Capt. Troy L. Hart, Essex Commanding Officer. “We accomplished a great deal, completing several major inspections including the Supply Management Certification, INSURV material inspection, and the Aviation Maintenance Inspection, as well as completing hundreds of essential schools and classes during our three-week training availability in Yokosuka. Now it's time to get back underway and for Essex and her well-trained crew, to lead the Essex ARG during what I am sure will be an interesting and highly productive fall patrol.”
During the deployment, Essex ARG and the 31st MEU will participate in numerous bilateral military exercises including Valiant Shield 2010, Amphibious Landing Exercise 2010, Korean Inter-operability Training Program 2010 and Keen Sword 2010.
“Training and exercising with our allies and partner nations hones our skills and allows us to build upon the cooperative relationships between our governments and military forces so that we are always ready to respond to any tasking," Hart said.
In addition to the exercises, several port visits will provide Sailors and Marines the chance for rest and relaxation, as well as time to lend a helping hand to local communities through acts of goodwill in the region.
“It's a good opportunity for us to interact with the community and enhance, or maintain, those relationships,” said Lt. Jason Dart, Essex staff chaplain. “It allows us to demonstrate that we are good ambassadors for the U.S. and the Navy. Getting involved in something greater than yourself strengthens the spiritual side and broadens your horizons and world view, helping to round out the Sailor.”
As the first deployment following a busy in-port period, the patrol will provide the first true taste of underway life for many of the ship’s newest Sailors.
"I’m anxious to see things like an actual flight operations and what it’s like to be out on the flight deck with aircraft on deck,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuels) Airman Samantha Starcher, from Elwood, Ind. “You get here and you hear about it, so I can’t wait to see what the hype is all about. I’m also looking forward to our port visits.”
USS Essex (LHD 2) is the flag ship and part of the forward deployed Essex Amphibious Ready Group. Essex ARG is comprised of Amphibious Squadron Eleven (CPR 11), amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver (LPD 9), and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49). The Essex ARG also consists of more than 1,400 Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) as well as Sailors assigned to Fleet Surgical Team 7. This group reports to Commander, Amphibious Force Seventh Fleet, Rear Adm. Richard Landolt, who is headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.