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Amphibious Squadron FOUR

The mission of Commander, Amphibious Squadron FOUR is the tactical control of amphibious forces, primarily to conduct assaults from the sea, to support an embarked Landing Force once they are established ashore, and to serve as Commander, U.S. SIXTH Fleet Amphibious Force when deployed in the Mediterranean Sea. Secondary missions include the protection, rescue or evacuation of non-combatant Americans from dangers abroad, providing humanitarian assistance, and showing a credible U.S. Force presence whenever required.

COMPHIBRON FOUR's core staff of twelve officers and nineteen enlisted specialists serves as a nucleus of expertise in assault planning, amphibious operations, task force operational control, coordination of naval gunfire and close air support, communications, medical surgery and treatment. During exercises and combat operations, the staff can be rapidly augmented to meet mission requirements and will number about 75 personnel with embarked naval support elements.

Amphibious Squadron FOUR contributes to America's policy of maintaining peace and preserving freedom worldwide by maintaining a ready peacetime presence in areas of vital interest to the security of the United States and our allies. The amphibious forces of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps maintain a significant capability to conduct amphibious operations in actual combat, as well as humanitarian, situations. In fulfilling these vital missions the squadron remains, as it has for the past four decades, "Ready to Land."

The main job of the PhibRon is to support Marine and SEAL Ops as ordered by CINCLANT, and the CNO. PhibRon4 is capable of taking into battle more than 2,398 battle ready Marines. PhibRon4 can also provide it's own protection with the use of a CG, DD, DDG, and two FFG's. Together, these ships form a formidable opponent to even the largest fleet. Capable of launching large numbers of Cruise Missiles, Long Range SAM's, and several guns capable of Shore Bombardment from long range.

All four tactical PHIBRONs, under the command of Commander, Amphibious Group TWO, maintain a demanding tempo of at-sea operations. In the past ten years, COMPHIBRON FOUR has logged over 2000 days out of homeport. A tactical amphibious squadron's organization is unique. Ships are assigned periodically to one of the tactical squadrons for specific operations or for temporary administrative purposes. The squadron staff functions for the commander in the operational readiness of each ship. The amphibious squadron commander with his staff is charged with responsibilities for planning and executing amphibious operations and deployments with a reinforced Marine Battalion. The amphibious squadron staff is capable of planning and executing amphibious assaults at the Marine Expeditionary Unit level with augmenting detachments from a Tactical Air Control Squadron, Naval Beach Group, Special Warfare Group, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team, and Fleet Surgical Team. Additionally it serves as Naval Forces Commander in various Joint Task Force Operations. and Fleet Surgical Team. Additionally it serves as Naval Forces Commander in various Joint Task Force Operations.

MARG 3-95 USS Wasp (LHD 1) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) -- Sailors and Marines of the USS America (CV 66) Battle Group and USS Wasp (LHD 1) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) deployed on 28 August 1995, for a previously scheduled routine deployment. Their departure from Norfolk was delayed three days because of Hurricane Felix. Even with the delay, the battle group and ARG arrived on station on time and immediately began flying air strikes over Bosnia- Herzegovina in support of NATO's Operation Deliberate Force. On 09 September 1995 the Kearsarge ARG rendezvoused with the Wasp ARG to conduct a turnover. Later that afternoon, Kearsarge ARG Commodore Jerry Schill passed the "Commander, Task Force Six One" baton to Wasp ARG Commodore Skip Buchanan and Amphibious Squadron Four. The three-ship amphibious ready group also conducted operations in the Adriatic Sea serving as a ready-reserve force off the coast of Bosnia. The ARG, with its diverse amphibious assault capabilities, supported NATO Implementation Forces (IFOR) during the opening phases of Operation Joint Endeavor. Ready to respond to any contingency, the group had the capability to land 2,200 Marines and their supporting equipment, including the first M1A1 Abrams tanks to deploy with an ARG. The amphibious assault ship, Wasp, also served as a rescue platform for the multinational forces participating in the peacekeeping mission. USS Shreveport (LPD 12) and USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), together with approximately 600 embarked U.S. Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, joined with Greek armed forces to conduct Alexander the Great 95, a major amphibious exercise in the Aegean Sea 22-30 November 1995. Whidbey Island deployed to the Mediterranean Sea as part of the America Battle Group and MARG 3-95. Wasp and USS Shreveport (LPD 12) returned to Norfolk Naval Station on 28 February 1996. USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) returned to Little Creek Amphibious Base, VA on 28 February 1996.

When deployed in late 2000, three Naval vessels constituted Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) Four, the unit that maintained tactical control of those Navy counterparts that work alongside the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) [26th MEU(SOC)]

  • USS Saipan (LHA 2) is the flagship of PHIBRON Four. The United States maintains the largest and most capable force in the world, and Saipan sails proudly on its front line. Most units of 26th MEU(SOC), to include the Command Element and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 264, are embarked aboard this vessel.
  • USS Austin (LPD 4) is called the "middle deck," as it as not as large as USS Saipan. The class is considered one of the most versatile ships in the US Naval fleet. While her primary mission is similar to the Ashland, her secondary mission is evacuation and civilian disaster relief. Most of the Marines from the 26th MEU(SOC)'s MEU Service Support Group 26 are embarked aboard Austin, as well as BLT 2/2's Golf Company.
  • The smallest ship within PHIBRON Four is USS Ashland (LSD 48), an amphibious warfare ship designed to transport Marine and their equipment throughout the world and to launch and support assault landing craft and helicopters during amphibious operations. USS Ashland, the last of her class to be commissioned, is the home to 26th MEU(SOC) Battalion Landing Team 2/2 units Echo Company, M1-A1 Abraham's Battle Tank platoon, two Amphibious Assault Vehicle Platoons and an Obstacle Clearing Detachment from the Engineer Platoon.

Together, the 26th MEU(SOC), PHIBRON Four, USS Saipan, USS Austin and USS Ashland patrolled the entire Mediterranean region, and using those three ships, stood ready and able to respond to numerous different situations at one time.

COMPHIBRON FOUR's core staff of twelve officers and nineteen enlisted specialists serves as a nucleus of expertise in assault planning, amphibious operations, task force operational control, coordination of naval gunfire and close air support, communications, medical surgery and treatment. During exercises and combat operations, the staff can be rapidly augmented to meet mission requirements and will number about 75 personnel with embarked naval support elements.

Recent deployments of COMPHIBRON FOUR have demonstrated repeatedly the value of the amphibious squadron staff to the accomplishment of national policy. In the past several years, this staff has executed the following operations:

1990 - Conducted Spanish Phiblex, Exercise Dragon Hammer 90. Coordinated the drawdown and evacuation of over 1641 Americans and foreign nationals from the American Embassy in Monrova, Liberia.

1991 - Conducted Exercise Tunisian Phiblex, Display Determination and Hammerlock.

1992 - Conducted Exercise Teamwork 92.

1993 - Conducted SAR/TRAP mission in support CJTF Provide Promise, Exercise Noble Shirley, African Eagle 1993, Spanish Phiblex, Gibralter Phiblex and Betacom Exercise.

1994 - Operated as ARG Attack Group ALFA to CJTF Somalia supporting Operation Continue Hope. Conducted Operation Quickdraw, the rapid amphibious withdrawal of all U.S. Forces from Somalia. Conducted SAR/TRAP mission in support of CJTF Provide Promise. Conducted Greek Phiblex, Alexander the Great, and NATO Exercise Dynamic Impact 94.

1995 - Participated in the two-month multi-national exercise STRONG RESOLVE 95 in Norway. Conducted ARG 3-95 which included exercises Atlas Hinge 95, Noble Shirley/Noble Chris/Juniper Hawk, Bright Star 95, Alexander the Great 95, and Ready Reserve support of "Operation Joint Endeavor." Wasp (LHD 1) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) participated in NATO exercise Strong Resolve '95, which took place in the north Atlantic and in Norway 20 February 1995 through 10 March 1995. Exercise Strong Resolve `95 included joint and combined operations which exercised rapid deployment and multinational maritime, air and land forces as a military response to an evolving crisis. US ship participants included USS Wasp (LHD-1), USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41), and USS Shreveport (LPD-12). On 22 February 1995 severe weather forced the diversion of the Wasp ARG to Rota, Spain. This diversion resulted in the requirement to move 45 exercise Strong Resolve 95 participants and over 30,000 pounds of high priority cargo and mail to Rota. COMPHIBSTRIKFOR units returned to Operation Strong Resolve 95 refueled, reprovisioned, and ready for sea.

1996 - Continued support of "Operation Joint Endeavor." Began preparations with 22 MEU in late 96 for deployment in support ARG 2-97.

1997 - Conducted ARG 2-97 which included real-world operations Silver Wake, Guardian Retrieval, and Noble Obelisk in which 2509 American citizens and foreign nationals were evacuated from Sierra Leone. Also participated in exercises Linked Seas 97, Betacom 97, Alexander the Great 97, Cooperative Partner, COMSIXTHFLT Invitex, Atlas Hinge 97, Rescue Eagle, Sea Breeze, and Dynamic Mix 97. COMPHIBRON FOUR returned from deployment 15 October 1997. More than 10,000 Sailors and Marines sailed from their home ports and bases 29 April 1997 for a six-month overseas deployment as the USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) Battle Group (CVBG) and the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). The amphibious assault ship Kearsarge, with nearly 3,000 Sailors and Marines aboard, left port two weeks early, on April 15, to relieve USS Nassau (LHA 4) off the west African coast. The other two ships in the Kearsarge ARG, USS Ponce (LPD 15) and USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), departed Norfolk on schedule with the JFK CVBG April 29 to relieve the two other ships of the Nassau ARG in the Mediterranean Sea. The largest allied military exercise of the year began 10 July 1997. Sponsored by Commander, Sixth Fleet, INVITEX 97, an invitational exercise, brought 13,000 U.S. naval and Marine Corps forces together with 3,000 Italian, French, Greek, German, Dutch and British naval forces to practice combined operations during a mock conflict. The aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) with Carrier Air Wing EIGHT embarked; units from USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Marine Amphibious Ready Group (MARG) along with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (22nd MEU); plus 12 other U.S. ships exercised a wide range of mission capabilities with their allied counterparts during the nine-day warfare training operation. ATLAS HINGE, a six-day exercise between US and Tunisian forces, began 22 July 1997. Four thousand U.S. Sailors, Marines and Soldiers from USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), USS Ponce (LPD 15), USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), USS Tempest (PC 2), the 22nd MEU, and Company 3/325 Airborne Battalion SETAF participated in the exercise.

1998 - Conducted Exercise MARCOT/Unified Spirit 98 and pre-deployment work-ups with 24 MEU and the Enterprise Battle Group. Commenced deployment to the Mediterranean as ARG 1-99, and participated in Tirane Albania Security Mission and Exercise Noble Shirley. The USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Battle Group and the USS Nassau (LHA 4) Amphibious Ready Group were underway in late 1998 in the Western Atlantic participating in Joint Task Force Exercise 99-1. Ships got underway Sept. 18 for the three-week exercise to prepare for their upcoming Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Gulf deployment, slated to begin in early November 1998. The USS Nassau Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) remained on station in the Adriatic conducting urgent humanitarian relief operations in support of ongoing operations in Kosovo. Capitalizing on the airlift and mobility capabilities of the ARG/MEU team, this international relief effort delayed the Nassau ARG's return to homeport by approximately two weeks. USS Nassau (LHA 4), USS Pensacola (LSD 38), USS Nashville (LPD 13) and embarked Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) had been scheduled to return to homeport 13 May 1999.

1999 - Continued Mediterranean deployment as ARG 1-99. Participated in Exercises Spanish Phiblex 1-99, and Alexander the Great 99. Conducted planning and presence operations in support of JTF Noble Anvil, Operation Joint Guardian, and Allied Force in support of the Kosovo crisis. Returned from deployment 13 May 1999.

Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group (MARG 3-00) USS Saipan (LHA 2) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked, left homeport 11 July 2000. The ARG, comprised the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Saipan, the amphibious transport dock ship USS Austin (LPD 4), the dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) and attached naval support elements. Their deployment was highlighted by extensive operations and exercises throughout the Mediterranean, including presence operations in the Adriatic Sea. The ARG/MEU team also participated in several international exercises. In addition to NATO Exercise Destined Glory, they were key players in Slunj 2000 (a bilateral exercise with Croatia) and PHIBLEX 00.

Operational control of Amphibious Squadron (COMPHIBRON) 4 shifted from the U.S. 2nd Fleet to the U.S. 6th Fleet on 24 July 2000 as the Norfolk-based USS Saipan (LHA 2) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) began its Mediterranean deployment. Since entering the Mediterranean in late July 2000, USS SAIPAN was designated as Flagship of the Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group (MARG 3-00). Amphibious Squadron 4 and the 26th MEU(SOC) relieved COMPHIBRON 8 and 24th MEU(SOC) embarked on the Norfolk-based USS WASP (LHD 1) ARG, which returned to homeport in mid-August 2000. The ARG/MEU team also participated in several international exercises. In addition to NATO Exercise Destined Glory, they were key players in Slunj 2000 (a bilateral exercise with Croatia). In September, the SAIPAN ARG and 26 MEU(SOC) conducted Exercise Atlas Hinge at Cap Serrat, Tunisia. The bilateral exercise offered the ARG/MEU team its first opportunity to conduct an opposed transit and landing since pre-deployment work-ups. Following Atlas Hinge, the SAIPAN ARG demonstrated its ability to operate in a split configuration for September's Croatian PHIBLEX, in which AUSTIN joined forces with the Croatian military to carry out a combined air and surface assault, while SAIPAN and ASHLAND performed Adriatic presence operations. The ARG remained in split configuration throughout much of October, with ASHLAND joining AUSTIN for the early phases of the multi-national amphibious Exercise Destined Glory, while SAIPAN conducted presence operations in the Eastern Mediterranean. SAIPAN joined the final phases of Destined Glory allowing the entire ARG to participate in the final amphibious assault at Doganbey, Turkey. The exercise schedule concluded in November with Slunj 2000, another bilateral training exercise with Croatia. While the primary focus of the exercise was to provide the MEU with the opportunity for Unit Level live fire and maneuver training, the ARG conducted an opposed transit of the Adriatic Sea en route to the offload site against forces from the GEORGE WASHINGTON Carrier Battle Group and the Croatian Navy. The SAIPAN ARG made port calls throughout the Mediterranean, including visits in Spain (Tarragona, Almeria, Malaga, and Palma de Mallorca), France (Cannes), Italy (La Spezia, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Gaeta, Naples, Catania, and Trieste), Greece (Souda Bay), Malta (Valetta), Croatia (Dubrovnik, Split, and Rijeka), and Slovenia (Koper).

Operational Control of Amphibious Squadron FOUR shifted from Commander, U. S. Sixth Fleet to Commander, U. S. Second Fleet on Friday, December 8, 2000 as the Norfolk-based SAIPAN Amphibious Ready Group ended its Mediterranean deployment and began its transit home to Norfolk, Virginia. COMPHIBRON Four and 26th MEU(SOC) was relieved as Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group by COMPHIBRON Two and 22nd MEU(SOC) embarked in the Norfolk-based NASSAU ARG. SAIPAN ARG returned to homeport on 21 December 2000. USS Saipan (LHA 2) amphibious ready group (ARG) returned to their East Coast homeports from a six-month Mediterranean Sea/Arabian Gulf deployment on 21 December 2000.

Over the week of 15-19 JAN 2001, the STAFF debarked USS SAIPAN and moved back into Barnum Hall at NAB Little Creek. On the 22nd of JAN 2001 everyone returned to work from post deployment stand down and the STAFF began preparing to begin the next Work-up Cycle in preparation for a FEB '02 Deployment.

Amphibious Squadron FOUR contributes to America's policy of maintaining peace and preserving freedom worldwide by maintaining a ready peacetime presence in areas of vital interest to the security of the United States and our allies. The amphibious forces of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps maintain a significant capability to conduct amphibious operations in actual combat, as well as humanitarian, situations. In fulfilling these vital missions the squadron remains, as it has for the past four decades, "Ready to Land."




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