LHD 8 Transits Off Coast of Southern California with Makin Island ARG 

PACIFIC OCEAN - The amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), front, the amphibious assault ship Makin Island USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) transit off the coast of Southern California. The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group is underway for a certification exercise preparing for an upcoming deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Lill/Released)
USS Makin Island, West Coast Amphibs Ready for Deployments, Blue/Green Exercises 
by Expeditionary Strike Group 3 Public Affairs 
SAN DIEGO - Later this year, the Navy will deploy one of its newest, most efficient and most capable amphibious assault ships, USS Makin Island (LHD 8).

USS Makin Island will make its maiden deployment as the flagship for Amphibious Squadron (CPR) 5 and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). Well into next year, CPR 5 and the 11th MEU will work together as they respond as a global force for good, to crisis around the world.

"The leadership from CPR5, the 11th MEU and Makin Island has formed a unique team," said Col. Scott Carhart, deputy commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3. "They've taken 'integration' and 'cooperation' to a new level and its reflected across their team of 4,000 plus Sailors and Marines. Well over a year ago, these commanders, Commodore Humberto Quintanilla (CPR 5), Col. Michael Hudson, (11th MEU) and Capt. James Landers (Makin Island), started forging their relationship with one goal in mind...to be successful at all assigned missions. So far, I'd say their formula is working out well as the ARGMEU team just completed a very successful certification exercise."

The waters off the coast of Camp Pendleton were home to the majority of the Navy's West Coast amphibious fleet Sept. 29. Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (BOXARG) was returning from a scheduled deployment to the Middle East, Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group was conducting her certification exercises and USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) was participating in Exercise Dawn Blitz. This collection of ships has not occupied the same water since 2010 and was a great opportunity for the eight ships and more than 8,000 Sailors and Marines involved.

Staff members from the ESG-3 and 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade embarked Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship, and USS Rushmore (LSD 47) an amphibious dock landing ship, to conduct a joint exercise, Dawn Blitz, directed by Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet and the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. This exercise was conducted to exercise staff integration between the Navy and Marine Corps team.

Both ships participated and interacted with Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group in JTFX while they were off the coast of Camp Pendleton. ESG-3 and 1st MEB commanders saw this as a perfect opportunity to exercise the blue/green team. Rear Adm. Gerard P. Hueber, ESG-3 commander said that this is the, "first at sea opportunity for Expeditionary Strike Group Three and 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade to exercise our Commander Amphibious Task Force and Commander Landing Force command and control responsibilities of the Amphibious Force. This Blue/Green team assembled off the coast is a testimony to our coordinated efforts and commitment to reestablish our amphibious warfare core competencies at sea."

"Dawn Blitz was a great chance to strengthen the Navy-Marine Corps relationship, and allowed 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade the ability to practice the skills it takes to remain ready to perform amphibious operations anywhere around the globe," said Maj. Gen. Melvin Spiese, 1st MEB commander.

BOXARG consists of amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45) and amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20). BOXARG, commanded by Commander, Amphibious Squadron 1, Capt. Curtis Shaub, was returning from a Western Pacific and U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. BOXARG provided continuous detailed planning and support to combatant commanders, fleet commanders and numerous country teams. They were operating near Camp Pendleton conducting their offload from their deployment.

"I couldn't imagine a more rewarding deployment than the one we're returning from," said Shaub.

"Our Sailors and Marines are the finest in the world and I couldn't be more proud of their exploits. They executed a multitude of complex tactical operations across an extremely demanding theater of operations during one of the most challenging times in our world's history."

Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group consisting of amphibious assault ship Makin Island, amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and commanded by Capt. Humberto Quintanilla, commander, Amphibious Squadron 5, conducted amphibious assault training during certification exercise off the coast of Camp Pendleton.

"Our Navy and Marine Corps team plays a critical role in facilitating international maritime security cooperation. Global maritime security can only be achieved through the unity of international and regional maritime integration, awareness, and response initiatives. The safety and economic interests of the United States and our allies and partner nations depend on unimpeded trade across the world's oceans," said Quintanilla.

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