Amphibious Squadron TWO
The mission of Amphibious Squadron TWO, since it was established in 1950, has been to exercise tactical control over and coordinate the employment of amphibious forces. This is done primarily in the conduct of assaults from the sea; but the unit also support embarked Marine forces once they are established ashore and serve as Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet Amphibious Force when deployed to the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group, or MARG, is composed of three versatile amphibious ships capable of protecting and defending the interests of the United States, NATO and other allies. The MARG is also capable of conducting the rescue and evacuation of non-combatant personnel, as well as providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
The Commodore acts as the Commander of the Landing Force and exercises tactical control of supporting elements. COMPHIBRON TWO's core staff of nine officers and fifteen 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 Squadrons are built much like an athletic team whose coaching and training staff remain permanently intact and receive athletes only for the season. The Core Staff serves as the "coaching staff" for the different units under its command. These units are referred to as Naval Support Elements or NSEs. They serve on this "team" for one year.
Amphibious ships are assigned to a squadron, more precisely an amphibious squadron which then becomes an Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). Each amphibious squadron is designated by number and is comprised of an at-sea staff - typically 25 to 30 Sailors and Marines responsible for the day-to-day operations of the ships. In the case of Operations Allied Force and Noble Anvil, Amphibious Squadron TWO was in charge of all amphibious evolutions of its ships: USS KEARSARGE (LHD 3), USS PONCE (LPD 15) and USS GUNSTON HALL (LSD 44). Whether peacetime or during a full-scale operation, these ships are assigned to support the Marines, whether aboard or ashore. The approximately 2,000 Marines and 1,000 ship's company comprised Marine Amphibious Ready Group 99-2 which was comprised of USS KEARSARGE, USS GUNSTON HALL and USS PONCE. the mission of PHIBRON TWO parallels the mission of USS KEARSARGE, to exercise tactical control over and coordinate amphibious forces, primarily in the conduct of assaults from the sea, support embarked U.S. Marine forces deployed to the Mediterranean. The Amphibious Force is also capable of conducting the rescue and evacuation of non-combatant personnel, as well as providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Amphibious Squadron TWO 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 Strike."
In October 1994 USS Guam Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group 2-94 (MARG 2-94), consisting of USS Guam (LPH 9), USS Austin (LPD 4), Uss Harlan County (LST 1196) and USS Tortuga (LSD 46) and under the command of Captain C.P. Vion, Commander Amphibious Squadron Two, participated in the Dynamic Guard '94 NATO exercise involving land, maritime and air forces from eight NATO nations; France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States in Southern Europe.
The Sailors and Marines of the USS George Washington (CVN 73) Battle Group [including DESRON 26] and the USS Guam (LPH 9) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), departed their homeports and bases on 26 January 1996 for a regularly scheduled deployment. The George Washington Battle Group, commanded by RADM Henry C. Giffin III, Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Group 2, relieved the USS America (CV 66) Battle Group, which deployed August 1995. The Guam ARG, commanded by CAPT William D. Young, Commander, Amphibious Squadron 2, and including USS Trenton (LPD 14), USS Tortuga LSD 46) USS Portland (LSD 37), 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operations Capable, relieved the USS Wasp (LHD 1) ARG. In December 1995 the battle group and ARG participated in Joint Task Force Exercise 96-1, their "final examination" before deployment, and the culmination of a year of intense preparation. In early April, the Guam ARG traveled to Liberia on the African coast where the ARG's embarked Marines from 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, flew ashore in helicopters to provide security at the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia. While still conducting this operation, elements of JTF-AR were ordered to Bangui, Central African Republic, to conduct similar operations. A special purpose Marine Air-ground task force, embarked on the Ponce (LPD 15) and with ten days' notice, relieved the Guam task force, and assumed the duties of CJTF-AR. This was done to allow the Guam ready group and the 22d MEU(SOC) to return to the Adriatic Sea and provide the European Command's desired over-the-horizon presence during the Bosnian national elections.
Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group (MARG) 98-1 consisted of USS Guam (LPH 9), USS Shreveport (LPD 12), USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), USS Ashland (LSD 48) and Marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) and the Amphibious Squadron 3 staff. USS George Washington (CVN 73) Carrier Battle Group (CVBG) and USS Guam (LPH 9) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) began a six-month overseas deployment 03 October 1997. Deploying with the aircraft carrier were nine tactical aircraft squadrons, a group of six cruisers, destroyers and frigates, a fast combat support ship and two submarines. USS Guam, USS South Carolina (CGN 37) and USS John Rodgers (DD 983) were making their final deployment. Traveling with Guam were dock landing ships USS Oak Hill and USS Ashland, amphibious transport dock USS Shreveport and more than 2,000 Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The Guam ARG replaced the Kearsarge ARG, which had been forward-deployed during the previous five months to regions including the Mediterranean Sea, the Adriatic Sea near Bosnia, the Arabian Gulf and off the western coast of Africa. Kearsarge departed its Norfolk home port early for deployment in response to tensions in Zaire. In order to keep Kearsarge's deployment to the standard six months, the ship left the Mediterranean early and conducted a turnover with Guam in the central Atlantic. The USS Guam (LPH 9) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) arrived on station in the Arabian Gulf 16 Feburary 1998 as it led a 12 ship formation through the Strait of Hormuz. In company with the 33-year old amphibious assault ship were the other four ships of the ARG: USS Shreveport (LPD 12), USS Ashland (LSD 48) and USS Oak Hill (LSD 51). USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) acted as the group's escort ship. Seven military preposition ships made up the remainder of the convoy. Ships of the USS Guam (LPH-9) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) began their return home after being relieved 11 March 1998 of their duties in the Arabian Gulf by the USS Tarawa (LHA-1) Amphibious Ready Group. The amphibious ready group (ARG) completed the trip to the Arabian Gulf in time so the USS Guam (LPH 9) ARG could depart for home on time. All three ships steamed almost constantly at 17-plus knots, about 90 percent of boiler capacity, in order to transit the 12,500 miles to the Gulf in just 31 days. In the Gulf of Oman, USS Guam, USS Shreveport (LPD-12), USS Ashland (LSD-48) and USS Oak Hill (LSD-51) turned over information they had compiled since arriving in the Gulf region on 16 February 1998.
MARG 99-2 - Marine Amphibious Ready Group 99-2 was comprised of PHIBRON TWO [USS KEARSARGE, USS GUNSTON HALL and USS PONCE] with the 26th Marine expeditionary unit, special operation capable (26 MEU SOC). The deployment began in the early morning hours of April 14, 1999, when Kearsarge departed its homeport at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. After picking up their Marines and their equipment via landing craft air cushion (LCAC) and helicopters, the three ships set sail at top speed for the Mediterranean Sea. The heavily populated city of Izmit and surrounding areas were the hardest hit Aug. 17, by an early-morning 7.4-magnitude earthquake that left over 15,000 dead and thousands more injured and homeless. Gunston Hall, USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and USS Ponce (LPD 15) were called to the sea of Marmara after the earthquake struck in support of operation avid response, the U.S. military's humanitarian response to the quake. Within hours of the amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall's (LSD 44) pierside arrival in Hereke, Turkey, Sept. 4, working parties comprised of both sailors and Marines were dispatched to U.S. sponsored tent-building sites near Izmit, Turkey, to aid in ongoing earthquake relief efforts.
USS Nassau (LHA 4) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) -- The general-purpose amphibious assault ship, USS NASSAU (LHA 4) departed for its six-month Mediterranean deployment on 28 November 2000. USS NASSAU had trained the previous eight months in preparation for this deployment through a series of exercises and operations. These pre-deployment exercises culminated with the successful completion of Joint Task Force Exercise 01-1 and NATO Exercise Unified Spirit 2000. Other ships sailing in the NASSAU Amphibious Readiness Group were USS NASHVILLE (LPD 13) and USS PORTLAND (LSD 37).
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