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USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group Deploys

Navy NewStand

Story Number: NNS030305-02
Release Date: 3/5/2003 12:32:00 PM

From 2nd Fleet Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- More than 4,000 Sailors and Marines attached to ships and units of the USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), along with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), departed from their East Coast home ports March 4.

The Iwo Jima ARG is composed of Commander, Amphibious Squadron 6; the multipurpose amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima; amphibious transport dock USS Nashville (LPD 13); the dock-landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50).

The Iwo Jima ARG is commanded by Capt. David C. Taylor, Commander, Amphibious Squadron 6. Iwo Jima, from Naval Station Norfolk, Va., is commanded by Capt. John W. Snedeker. USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), from Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, Va., is commanded by Cmdr. Troy L. Hart. USS Nashville (LPD 13), from Naval Station Norfolk, Va., is commanded by Capt. Shawn Tallant.

"Trust me," said Taylor. "We all want to go over there and get it over with. But, in my heart, I believe we believe in peace. We try to provide the world with stability and peace these other nations would want us to do. We don't want to conquer. And we don't want to pose a threat to any nation. Saddam Hussein poses a threat, not us."

As crew members reported aboard Iwo Jima at Naval Station Norfolk, a banner hung from the fantail of the ship that read "Let's Roll". There was also a quote from President Bush - "We will not tire, we will not falter, we will not fail."

"You can actually feel the energy coming out of the Iwo Jima today," said Snedeker. "I have a top-notch crew of 1,200 Sailors. They're very motivated. They're very focused, and we've been working hard for about the last year for this deployment. We were ready around Thanksgiving."

After departing Norfolk, the ships of the Iwo Jima ARG were heading to North Carolina to pick up Marines from the 26 MEU, along with 36 helicopters and six AV-8B Harrier jets from New River and Cherry Point Marine Corps Station.

"If you look up and down our waterfront," said Rear Adm. Michael P. Nowakowski, Commander, Amphibious Group 2, of the nearly vacant piers at the naval station. "We haven't seen anything like that since the early 1990s."

Nowakowski went on to say the Marines and Sailors are prepared for deployment. "It remains to be seen what happens over there, but I can assure you they are ready in every respect. They have the right equipment, the right people and the right leadership to make it through this deployment."

Most of the Sailors that deployed with the Iwo Jima ARG are from the Hampton Roads area. The United States is repositioning some of its military forces where required to support the President's global war on terrorism and to prepare for future contingencies as may be directed.

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