USS MAKIN ISLAND, At Sea - With Dec. 31 closing out 2011 and marking the 48th day of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group’s (ARG) maiden deployment, social media continues to be utilized as a valuable communication tool to keep friends and family members informed of the ARG’s current operations.
The Makin Island ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), which serves as the command ship for Commander, Amphibious Squadron (COMPHIBRON) 5 and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), as well as the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52).
The Makin Island ARG’s deployment, which began Nov. 14, is being followed closely by family, friends and other interested individuals on Facebook and other social media websites.
“Right now we are using Facebook to post information on where we have been and what the Sailors and Marines of the Makin Island ARG are doing,” said Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Sarah Murphy, who is assigned to the COMPHIBRON-5 staff and administers the COMPHIBRON-5 Facebook page. “We are also planning to utilize Facebook as a way command ombudsmen and family readiness groups can get information out to families.”
Murphy said that the COMPHIBRON-5 Facebook page is updated regularly with photographs, links to published stories and video clips highlighting the news and accomplishments of the Makin Island ARG.
“We just want to remind our followers not to post any information on ship’s movement or discuss times and dates,” said Murphy. “We need to keep OPSEC [Operational Security] in mind at all times to ensure the safety of our Sailors and Marines.”
USS Makin Island and USS New Orleans have ship-specific Facebook pages that are updated almost daily. COMPHIBRON-5, USS Makin Island, USS New Orleans and USS Pearl Harbor also maintain traditional websites where news and command information is also posted on a regular basis.
USS Makin Island’s Facebook page currently has the largest following in the Makin Island ARG.
“Along with our hybrid technology, being on the maiden deployment has increased the public’s interest in our ship and many people want to see how the new technology improves our ability to perform our mission,” said Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) John Lill, who administers Makin Island’s Facebook page.
Lill said the Makin Island Facebook page really started to take off earlier this year as the ship began to prepare for its maiden deployment and more imagery and other content was posted to the page. The page currently boasts more than 5,300 “likes.”
“There is definitely more interest in our deployment than previous ARGs and our public affairs team is working hard to provide timely and quality content to our followers,” added Lill.
Families of Makin Island Sailors and Marines say they are fortunate to have the Facebook page.
“I absolutely love everything about the page,” said Terry Brumbalow, a proud Navy mom from Euless, Texas whose son Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Jerad Brumbalow is assigned to Makin Island’s weapons department. “If I had to pick a favorite, it would be all the pictures.”
Brumbalow said she has been a Facebook user for almost five years, and began following Makin Island on Facebook about a year ago when her son received orders to the ship. She said she checks the page several times each day to find out the latest news about the ship and her son.
“Just keep the pictures and video coming,” said Brumbalow. “For a lot of us, your page allows us to see and share with our loved ones.”
In addition to Facebook the Makin Island ARG has also been active on Navy Live, the Navy’s official blog, available at http://navylive.dodlive.mil
On Dec. 7, Capt. Homer Denius, USS Pearl Harbor’s commanding officer, posted a special blog on Navy Live marking the anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
Capt. Humberto Quintanilla II, Commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5, also posted a blog on Navy Live Dec. 12, focusing his comments on the capabilities and necessity of ARG’s as part of the nation’s overall maritime strategy.
More blog posts and increased social media usage is anticipated as the Makin Island ARG continues on its historic maiden deployment.
The mission of the Makin Island ARG is to help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and provide humanitarian/disaster response as well as supporting the Navy’s Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.