PEARL HARBOR -- The Sailors and Marines of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG)/11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, May 1 for the final port call of the ARG/MEU's deployment to the U.S. 3rd, 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operations.
During the ARG/MEU's seven-month deployment to U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Central Command areas of responsibility, the 4,000 Sailors and Marines conducted maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in support of regional security and stability, and the free flow of maritime commerce.
Makin Island steamed more than 45,000 nautical miles while operating in the Pacific and Indian oceans, Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Gulf.
"All three ships in the ARG were exactly where our commanders needed them to be, when they needed them to be there," said Capt. Mike Crary, commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5. "It's a testament to this team's readiness, and I couldn't have asked for a more motivated and professional group of Sailors and Marines."
This is the ARG's last port visit before returning to their homeport of San Diego. The MEU will disembark during the ships' transit, to return to their home base in Camp Pendleton.
"The crew has done our nation's bidding, and now it's time to focus on getting back home and reuniting with our families and loved ones," said Capt. Mark Melson, Makin Island's commanding officer. "This team should look back on this deployment with pride. They conducted relevant, real-world operations that directly supported our nation's security, and that's something these Sailors and Marines can hang their hats on."
While in port, several Sailors will take advantage of a rare opportunity to re-enlist at the USS Arizona Memorial.
"Reenlisting at the Arizona Memorial is an honor," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Andrea Hahn, from Aurora, Colorado. "To rededicate myself to the Navy at a place with so much historical significance to our nation is an opportunity I might never have again."
When the port call concludes, Makin Island will depart with more than 200 "tigers," friends and family members of Sailors and Marines who will experience a small taste of their service member's day-to-day life underway, while riding the ship back to San Diego. Events planned for this year's Tiger Cruise include ship tours, gun shoots, and an air and sea power demonstration.
The three-ship ARG, which consists of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25) and amphibious dock landing ship (LSD 45), falls under the control of the embarked staff of PHIBRON 5. Embarked units include Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 5, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 5, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 11, and Beachmaster Unit (BMU) 1.
The 11th MEU consists of the 11th MEU Command Element; the Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (Reinforced); the Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines; and the Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 11.
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