Amphibious Squadron THREE
Located in San Diego, California at the 32nd Street Naval Station, Amphibious Squadron Three is the Command and Control Leg of the Bonhomme-Richard ARG (Amphibious Readiness Group). 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. A PHIBRON's NSE's consists of an Amphibious Assault Ship (LHD or LHA), an Amphibious Transport Dock (LPD), a Dock Landing Ship (LSD), a Fleet Surgical Team (FST-6), a Fleet Information Warfare Center detachment (FIWC), a Naval Beach Group detachment (NBG-2), a Search and Rescue detachment (HC SAR), an Explosive Ordinance Disposal detachment (EOD), a Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON), and a Naval Special Warfare Task Unit (NSWTU). All elements come together for six months of training then deploy for six months as a forward-deployed, self-sustaining Amphibious Task Force.
More than 4,000 Sailors and Marines departed San Diego 07 February 1998 for a six-month deployment aboard USS Tarawa (LHA 1), USS Mount Vernon (LSD 39) and USS Denver (LPD 9). They departed San Diego five days ahead of schedule as part of a buildup of U.S. forces in the Arabian Gulf. The Tarawa Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), consisting of more than 2,100 Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), operated in the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and the Arabian Gulf. Tarawa conducted special operations certification exercises before leaving on their 10th deployment to the Western Pacific. The Tarawa ARG participated in a Special Operations Capable exercise of the coast of Southern California in December 1997. The exercise tested the force's ability to respond to situations it might encounter during the upcoming deployment. As the possibility of renewed conflict with Iraq loomed on the horizon, the Tarawa ARG made a dash straight to the Arabian Gulf within 31 days, at a speed averaging 17 knots. Just as the ARG neared the Gulf, the threat passed. However, according to Commander, Amphibious Group 3, the 12,500-mile, high-speed transit set a record and won the respect of senior Navy officials. The USS Tarawa (LHA-1) Amphibious Ready Group and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) arrived in the Arabian Gulf 11 March 1998. USS Tarawa, USS Denver (LPD-9) and USS Mount Vernon (LSD-39) relieved the USS Guam (LPH-9) ARG to continue the commitment to security and stability in the region. In the early summer of 1998, the Tarawa ARG - which at that time included the 11th MEU (SOC) -conducted an evacuation operation that rescued 250 people from Eritrea's capital, Asmara. The three-ship Tarawa Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) returned home 07 Aug 1998 after having spent six months deployed to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf. The Tarawa ARG steamed for more than 36,000 miles across two oceans during its deployment, visiting nine countries in southwest Asia, Africa and the Far East.
The Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) consisted of USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6), USS DENVER (LPD-9), USS PEARL HARBOR (LSD-52) and the Fifteenth Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (MEU(SOC)). Embarked onboard were Commander, Amphibious Squadron THREE and Staff, Helicopter Support Squadron ELEVEN and Assault Craft Unit FIVE. During the millennium Westpac, the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) was involved in many vital operations and exercises. The first mission was to support peacekeeping and humanitarian operations of the international forces in East Timor. While in the Arabian Gulf, the ARG joined other forces of the Fifth Fleet supporting Operation Southern Watch. The ARG and the 15th MEU(SOC) also participated in multinational exercises Eager Mace in Kuwait, Eastern Maverick in Qatar, and Sea Soldier in Oman. DENVER had the honor of being one of the few amphibious ships to support maritime interdiction operations in the Arabian Gulf -- a mission previously only conducted by destroyers and cruisers. DENVER's visit, board, search, and seizure teams boarded five ships in support of United Nations sanctions against Iraq.
In October 2001 the 13th MEU embarked its combat power aboard the amphibious ships of the USS Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group to solidify the Navy-Marine Corps team and its title as the nation's force in readiness. The MEU and Amphibious Squadron Three's (PHIBRON 3) first at-sea period, Compatibility Training Underway Exercise, was conducted Oct. 2-17, off the Southern California coast. COMPTUEX was the first time Marines and Sailors of the USS Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group planned and executed ship-to-shore missions. The MEU/ARG team exercised its ability to conduct special missions from ships off the coast of Southern California to land-based objectives on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and San Clemente Island. San Francisco Fleet Week was cancelled after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., so the 13th MEU stacked its schedule with three more special missions, totaling 15 in a 16-day at-sea period. Cancellation of Fleet Week enabled the MEU/ARG team to tailor a more robust training package. The exercise has been planned for months and is a major stepping stone, as it is the only shipboard training the 13th MEU will conduct hand-in-hand with Amphibious Squadron Three (PHIBRON 3) before it tested for a Special Operations Capable (SOC) designation. Being SOC qualified allows the 13th MEU/USS Bonhomme Richard ARG to set sail for its upcoming six-month deployment to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf regions. Training missions for COMPTUEX displayed the full gamut of core capabilities of an expeditionary force in readiness. During COMPTUEX, the 13th MEU completed a boat raid, two Maritime Special Purpose Force missions, a mechanized raid, an Enhanced Nuclear, Biological and Chemical scenario, a mechanized Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel, a light armored vehicle raid, a Vessel, Board, Search and Seizure, a long range helicopter raid, a humanitarian assistance exercise, a non-combatant evacuation exercise, a helicopter-borne TRAP and a mass casualty drill. On the final day of COMPTUEX, the MEU/ARG team executed the hallmark mission of the MEU - a conventional amphibious assault, like those conducted during World War II.
More than 4,500 Sailors and Marines from the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) departed San Diego for a deployment in support of the Navy's maritime strategy, 11 May 2015. The Essex ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), the command ship for Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 3 and the 15th MEU, as well as amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23), which is embarking upon its maiden deployment.
After departing San Diego, Essex ARG will transit to Hawaii Operating Area where they are scheduled to participate in exercise Culebra Koa 2015 which is a U.S. Pacific Fleet training exercise designed to demonstrate and increase joint proficiency in expeditionary operations. The exercise will also serve as additional training for the Essex ARG prior to deployment to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf.
While deployed, the ARG/MEU team serves as a sea-based, expeditionary crisis response force capable of conducting amphibious missions across the full range of military operations. The mission of the Essex ARG is to help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and provide humanitarian/disaster response as well as supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.
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