LHA 6 America - WESTPAC17
The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), as part of the America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) returned home to San Diego, 02 February 2018, following a seven-month deployment to the Indo-Pacific and Middle East regions.
Through the duration of their deployment, Sailors and Marines on board America conducted maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in support of regional security, stability, and the free flow of maritime commerce in the Pacific and Middle East.
"Our Blue-Green team proved themselves time and time again to be a professional and versatile contingency response force whether it was at sea, in the sky, or on land," said Capt. Rome Ruiz, Commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 3."As an amphibious task force, our ships gained extensive experience by working with various partner nations and ship platforms, which contributed to the increasing strength of our combat power. I am proud to have been part of this deployment and proud to have served with this talented team."
Following sustainment exercise (SUSTEX) in Hawaii, the crew conducted operations in the Indo-Pacific to include partner nation training in Malaysia, military-to-military exchanges with Singapore, and supporting AV-8B Harrier and MV-22B Osprey operations in Yap and Palau. America also provided support to the crew of USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) following the ship's collision in the Malacca Straits.
Upon their arrival to the Middle East, Sailors and Marines conducted the combat rehearsal Alligator Dagger to strengthen their capabilities as a crisis response and contingency force for the Central Command area of responsibility. Additionally, America had the opportunity to train alongside other naval vessels including the newly commissioned expeditionary support ship USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3), as well as host Djiboutian Chief of Defense, Lt. Gen. Zakaria Cheikh Ibrahim onboard.
At one of the largest air shows in the world, embarked aviation assets from America and 15th MEU had the unique opportunity to participate in the Dubai Air Show and host the kick-off reception onboard. HSC-23 and VMM-161 represented U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aviation strength at the air show. "I think participating in the Dubai Air Show was a great opportunity to showcase what we do and what we had been doing on deployment thus far," said Lt. Andrew Wilson, an MH-60S helicopter pilot assigned to HSC-23.
The ship visited several foreign ports throughout deployment, giving Sailors and Marines a valuable opportunity to experience new cultures and enjoy liberty while interacting with local communities and strengthening relationships with partner countries through tours and community relations projects. The ship conducted port visits in Guam, Singapore, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Malaysia.
"I've always wanted to travel the world, and during deployment we were able to see a lot of it," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuel) 3rd Class Sasha Nunes, assigned to the America's Air Department. "I had the chance to travel and interact with people from different cultures, see landscapes and do activities with friends I've never thought I'd do in such a short amount of time."
As the ship's first deployment came to a close, America's Sailors and the 15th MEU Marines looked forward to reuniting with family and friends. "Since the ship left for her first operational deployment seven months ago, this crew has grown exponentially in skill and professionalism," said Capt. Joe Olson, commanding officer of America. "Our Sailors and the Marines of the 15th MEU fulfilled their tasking proficiently, effectively, and with heart. I am honored to have served with these men and women and we are excited to be home."
Throughout the course of the seven-month deployment, America traveled 42,911 nautical miles; processed 214,697 pounds of mail; conducted 5,075 flight deck landings, takeoffs and vertical replenishment drop off and pick-ups. The engineering department produced 16.34 million gallons of potable water; Sailors and Marines consumed 254,960 eggs; and the ship's store sold $1,021,624.87 in merchandise.
The America ARG, commanded by PHIBRON 3, consists of the amphibious transport dock USS San Diego (LPD 22), the amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and America. They operated with HSC-23 and detachments from Assault Craft Unit 5, Naval Beach Group 1, Beachmaster Unit 1, Fleet Surgical Team 1 and Tactical Air Control Squadron 11.
The 15th MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force comprised of a ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marines; an aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced); a combat logistics element, Combat Logistics Battalion 15.
U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy. Third Fleet constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions that promote ongoing peace, security, and stability throughout the Pacific.
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