Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group MED 18 Deployment
"Proud, Trustworthy, Bold"
Sailors and Marines attached to the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and components of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) deployed 17 December 2018. Kearsarge is the flagship of the Kearsarge amphibious ready group, which consists of Amphibious Squadron 6, the 22nd MEU, the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24), the Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), as well as Kearsarge.
Kearsarge’s commanding officer, Capt. Jason Rimmer, said he is confident the ARG is ready to take on the deployment’s challenges. "Kearsarge has spent the last four months focused on combat readiness and tactical skills,” said Rimmer. “The Kearsarge crew performed across all areas during a number of underway rehearsals and cemented their reputation as who a team that demonstrates the utmost in integrity, trust and grit. Although each of us will bid a sentimental farewell to family and friends, we sail with a confidence built on proficiency and stand ready to take the watch, maintain freedom of the seas and deter aggression."
Sailors and Marines attached to the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and components of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) deployed Dec. 17. Kearsarge is the flagship of the Kearsarge amphibious ready group, which consists of Amphibious Squadron 6, the 22nd MEU, the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24), the Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), as well as Kearsarge. Kearsarge’s commanding officer, Capt. Jason Rimmer, said he is confident the ARG is ready to take on the deployment’s challenges. "Kearsarge has spent the last four months focused on combat readiness and tactical skills,” said Rimmer. “The Kearsarge crew performed across all areas during a number of underway rehearsals and cemented their reputation as who a team that demonstrates the utmost in integrity, trust and grit. Although each of us will bid a sentimental farewell to family and friends, we sail with a confidence built on proficiency and stand ready to take the watch, maintain freedom of the seas and deter aggression."
The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) earned the 2018 Battle Effectiveness Award (Battle "E"), 08 March 2019. The Battle “E” recognizes sustained superior performance in an operational environment, and continuous readiness throughout certifications and qualifications conducted during the competitive period. Eligibility for this award demands day-to-day demonstrated excellence in at least four of six assessed areas including warfare, engineering and logistics.
“I am tremendously proud of the crew for earning the Battle “E” for 2018,” said Capt. Jason Rimmer, commanding officer of Kearsarge. “Though our motivation lies in being a capable and ready ship, recognition afforded through the Battle “E” is a tangible reminder of noteworthy efforts of each member of the crew.” Every Sailor and Marine serving on the ship for permanent duty from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018, can now sport a Battle "E" ribbon to signify their contribution to the award. Sailors who have previously received a Battle "E" are now authorized to wear an additional silver "E" device on their ribbon, or a wreathed “E” to signify four or more awards, if applicable.
The award, Kearsarge’s second consecutive, and ninth in its history, comes after a busy year for the crew. “Kearsarge represented the Navy in two fleet weeks, supported American citizens in the wake of Hurricane Florence, and performed admirably throughout pre-deployment training leading to our deployment in late 2018. It is truly gratifying to lead this crew and display the Battle “E” for a second consecutive year," Rimmer said.
The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) departed Salalah, Oman, following a port visit, March 9. “We are proud of the opportunity to strengthen regional partnerships and demonstrate the flexibility to operate with other nations such as our gracious hosts in the Sultanate of Oman,” said Capt. Jason Rimmer, Kearsarge’s commanding officer.
The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer has arrived in the US Fifth Fleet’s area of operations, the US Navy announced 25 June 2019. The ship and its battle group carry thousands of US Marines as well as strike aircraft and helicopters. The Boxer leads the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which also includes the amphibious transport dock USS John P. Murtha and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry, US Central Command noted in a statement. The ships are replacing like vessels led by the USS Kearsarge, which had been in the theater since April but has now rotated out.
Kearsarge is the flagship for the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.
After seven months deployed to the Europe, Africa and the Middle East areas of operation, over 4,500 Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) Sailors and Marines safely returned home 18 July 2019 upon completion of a successful deployment.
"The Kearsarge ARG's deployment provided the U.S. Department of Defense with a versatile amphibious force option with forward presence in support of regional partners to safeguard waterways and provide an ability to react to emerging crises," said Kearsarge ARG Commodore Capt. Joseph O'Brien. "To that end, the Kearsarge ARG participated in Operation Deliberate Resolve, Operation Freedom's Sentinel, and multiple other named operations to further security and stability in the Middle East, Europe, and Africa." According to O'Brien, the mobile, scalable, and self-sustaining nature of the Kearsarge ARG allowed it to perform precision amphibious strikes and support various security cooperation efforts in three geographically separate locations during its deployment.
"Naval forces are inherently flexible and ready to respond to emergent tasking around the globe to provide combatant commanders with critically needed capabilities," said O'Brien. "This ARG's ability to disaggregate forces and operate efficiently and effectively across multiple areas of responsibility during this deployment enabled us to simultaneously fulfill the security requirements of three combatant commanders and that's no easy task. It took a lot of coordination, training, and expertise from the deck plates up the chain of command and I couldn't be prouder of this team."
The deployment afforded the Kearsarge ARG with an opportunity to enhance the interoperability of Navy-Marine Corps amphibious forces with partner nations and allies through their participation in eight military exercises, including Exercise Alexander the Great, Exercise Sea Soldier, and Exercise BALTOPS 2019. In total, the Kearsarge ARG made port calls to a combined 13 different countries in the Middle East and Europe.
"These were truly unique visits for many of our Sailors and Marines," said USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Commanding Officer Capt. Jason Rimmer. "Most of them had probably never been to places like Greece, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, or Spain before this deployment – now they can say they've visited all of those places and a few more. I always say that is one of the greatest benefits of joining our military. You get to travel to unique places and gain a deeper appreciation for other cultures, nations, and strengthen relationships with their people through firsthand, meaningful experiences."
There were other unique experiences during the Kearsarge ARG's deployment. Lt. Thomas Hendricks, a naval aviator attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, embarked aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship Kearsarge, was the first Sailor to fly the U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey during actual operations.
"There are exciting times and there are frustrating times being the first at anything," said Hendricks, a Navy pioneer of Osprey piloting. "But I think ultimately this will be good for the Navy." He said that he is proud to be a part of this aviation modernization effort to equip the fleet with the most technologically advanced platforms that more effectively meet operational requirements. Hendricks added the Osprey will eventually replace the C-2A Greyhound as the primary passenger carrier onboard delivery vehicle for aircraft carriers.
Each Kearsarge ARG Sailor and Marine has his or her own interpretation of what made the deployment a success. For Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Jaime Valencia, the Kearsarge flight deck leading chief petty officer, it was about the safety and protection of those he led. "This deployment was definitely successful," said Valencia. "Every time that we are able to bring everyone home unharmed, I call that a success. Our people are our most important asset. And just like I told the division on day one, as long as I can bring everyone home with ten fingers and ten toes, I can consider my job successful." For others, like USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) Training Officer, Lt. Greg Bryant, it was a chance for his to team to demonstrate current and future readiness. "The training we were able to accomplish during our deployment, and specifically BALTOPS, will prove important to maintaining our readiness," said Bryant. "I am proud of the way our crew handled every obstacle and challenge we faced during our seven months out to sea."
The Kearsarge ARG consisted of the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge, the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24), the dock landing ship Fort McHenry, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 2 and FST 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26, Tactical Air Control Squadron 21, components of Naval Beach Group 2 and the embarked staff of Amphibious Squadron 6. The Kearsarge ARG returned from a regularly-scheduled deployment , where Sailors and Marines provided a ready, versatile amphibious assault capability and vigilant maritime presence in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
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