Saipan Expeditionary Strike Group MED 03 Deployment
Omnius Fasimus: "We Do It All"
In August 2002 the Navy announced that the USS Saipan would be deploying at the head of an Expeditionary Strike Group that would be comprised of a Guided Missile Cruiser, a destroyer, a frigate, and a submarine in addition to the normal LPD and LSD vessels. The Saipan ESG would be the first ESG to deploy, sometime in August 2003.
The Saipan will reportedly deploy in August 2003 with its usual compliment of LPDs and LSDs plus one other vessel of unknown type but will borrow three other ships from the Enterprise Battle Group which is to deploy roughly around the same time. The ships assigned to the Saipan ESG will be LPD 15 Ponce, LSD 44 Gunston Hall, CG 58 Philippine Sea, DDG 66 Gonzalez, FFG 47 Nicholas, and SSN 755 Miami. It will be commanded by a commodore which is generally what would command an Amphibious Ready Group.
On or about December 31, 2002 the USS Saipan and the USS Ponce departed Norfolk and headed to Naval Weapons Station Earle to onload ammunition, according to the Associated Press. Such a movement was highly unusual as neither of these ships was due to deploy until August 2003, and ARG's normally make the trip to Earle only a few months prior to a deploment.
On January 10, 2003 a report in the Associated Press confirmed that the USS Saipan would deploy in support of the war against terrorism. Early indications are this ship along with the USS Ponce would depart on or about January 12 and would either head to North Carolina to begin taking on elements of the 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade or would receive the Marines in Norfolk.
Marines and Sailors launched from USS Saipan (LHA 2) by sea and air on February 20, 2003 began the offload of forces from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Battalion (MEB) and supporting units into Kuwait.
In April, Saipan had not seen a port since their departure from Norfolk, Va., in early January.
An explosion occurred May 7 in a berthing compartment aboard USS Saipan while it was in Persian Gulf, injuring 11 personnel. One of the injured had been evacuated to an Army field hospital in Kuwait with a serious arm wound and is in stable condition. The remaining injured are being treated by the ship's medical personnel. None of the injuries are life-threatening. The injured personnel were members of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and have been deployed to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The explosion occurred in a trash receptacle in Marine berthing, piercing a bulkhead and injuring personnel in the adjacent compartment.
After 148 days at sea without a port visit, USS Saipan (LHA 2) pulled into port at Rota, Spain, on June 16, 2003, for the long-awaited 'liberty call.' Saipan stopped for some well-deserved liberty and to take on supplies before continuing their voyage home to Norfolk, Va.
Saipan returned to Norfolk on June 15, 2003.
25 Jun 2003 - Return to Nofolk
22 Jun 2003 - Offload Marines at Morehead City
16 Jun 2003 - Port visit @ Rota, Spain
06 Jun 2003 - Transit Strait of Gibralter
02 Jun 2003 - Mediterranean
end May 2003 - Red Sea
08 May 2003 - EXPLOSION ON BOARD
19 Mar 2003 - OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
04 Feb 2003 - Transit Suez
10 Jan 2003 - deploys w/ ATF-E
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