SAN DIEGO - The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), amphibious transport dock USS Cleveland (LPD 7), and dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) return to San Diego April 14, after a six-month deployment to Middle East and Southeast Asia.
"I am proud of this exceptional crew, who excelled at every mission they were given," said Bonhomme Richard Commanding Officer, Capt. John Funk. "Through their efforts and professionalism, Bonhomme Richard had a direct impact on our national security, and made a positive difference in each country we visited."
Bonhomme Richard ARG, along with 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, participated in Marine Exercise 2009, a multilateral training exercise. The Timor-Leste's Armed Forces and International Stabilization Force were also involved in the exercise, which was designed to enhance interoperability and communication between U.S. Navy and Timor-Leste forces. Cleveland and Rushmore personnel trained with the Indonesian Marines in jungle operations, platoon live-fire maneuvers, bilateral reconnaissance, and military operations in urban terrain.
Cleveland and Rushmore also conducted a series of training exercises and theater security cooperation activities in conjunction with militaries from partner nations in the Persian Gulf region. Training efforts focused on enhancing operational readiness, military-to-military cooperation, and interoperability with the armed forces of both Kuwait and United Arab Emirates.
Sailors and Marines from the Bonhomme Richard ARG took part in several humanitarian and community outreach projects during the deployment. In Timor-Leste, the crew took part in medical and dental civic action projects, visited a local orphanage, and also competed in a goodwill soccer match against the Timor-Leste national youth team. While in Phuket, Thailand they participated in three community service projects, painting, performing general repairs and interacting with children at three different schools.
After departing the 5th fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR), Bonhomme Richard made a port visit to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where more than 70 Sailors and Marines volunteered at a daycare center for disabled children. They also spent three days painting and completing grounds work around the center.
Rushmore Sailors volunteered at Fukuoka Children's Hospital in Fukuoka, Japan, providing musical entertainment and interacting with young patients.
Also returning with the USS Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group are the command element, Commander, Amphibious Squadron 7; the Tactical Air Control Squadron 12, Detachment 1; the "Wild Cards" of Helicopter Sea Combat 23, Det. 3; Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 1, Det. B; ACU 5, Det. F; Beachmaster Unit 1, Det. B; and Fleet Surgical Team 9.
The Bonhomme Richard ARG helps provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the sea and humanitarian/disaster response within 3rd Fleet's 50-million square mile AOR in the Eastern Pacific, as well as supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.