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Boxer Returns to San Diego After Supporting OIF

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS040426-11

Release Date: 4/29/2004 5:00:00 AM

By Photographer's Mate 2nd Class (AW) Amanda J. Stuart and Journalist 1st Class Karen M. Golembieski, USS Boxer Public Affairs

ABOARD USS BOXER (NNS) -- USS Boxer (LHD 4) will be returning to its homeport of San Diego April 29, after completing a three-and-a-half month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

This was Boxer's second deployment in less than a year's time, during which Boxer provided amphibious lift of essential personnel and equipment for 1st Marine Expeditionary Unit and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

Upon arrival in the Persian Gulf, Boxer spent five days offloading more than 200 U.S. Marine personnel and their equipment onto Kuwait Naval Base. In total, Boxer transported and offloaded 16 CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 466, 150 trucks with trailers, several aircraft towing vehicles and associated support equipment, and multiple large containers of ammunition.

"Our mission was to deliver 16 helicopters and other supplies that Marine Aircraft Group 16 needed for their base of operations," said Operations Department Leading Chief Petty Officer Senior Chief Operations Specialist James E. Marshall, of Ralls, Texas. "We got short notice to deliver. The crew stepped up and did what we needed to do. They completed the mission flawlessly. We were able to support a rapid turnover and support the Marine Corps insertion in the field to give the Army some help."

After the offload, Boxer's crew began their journey back to San Diego, making short port visits in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Goa, India; Sembawang, Singapore; Sasebo, Japan; and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

In addition to taking a break from the rigors of life at sea in these ports, Boxer Sailors continued to invest themselves by completing some much-needed ship preservation and maintenance. The crew put in many hours painting the exterior of the ship and replacing valves in engineering spaces, which greatly improved and sustained their quality of life.

"We replaced eight low pressure drain valves for the auxiliary steam system," said Chief Machinist's Mate Trent Roberts, of Austin, Texas. "The valves were leaking and could have caused a heat stress situation in the engineering spaces now that we are traveling to tropical waters."

Before traveling to the warmer climate of Hawaii, Boxer completed her final operational mission for the deployment, which was to exchange two landing craft air cushion (LCAC) vehicles that had been brought from San Diego with two from Sasebo. Assault Craft Unit 5 took charge of the two Sasebo LCACs, which Boxer is transporting back to Camp Pendleton, Calif., for a routine overhaul.

In Hawaii, the final stop before home, Boxer embarked several members of the Afloat Training Group, Pacific, to conduct the Command Assessment of Readiness and Training (CART), which tests Boxer's battle readiness.

"CART is a snapshot of how well we're doing our training and systems maintenance," said Boxer's Damage Control Assistant Lt. Cmdr. Steven W. Ligler, of Spooner, Wis. "Although engineering and damage control get a lot of attention, primarily due to the highly visible drills we conduct, pretty much everyone has a stake in the process. How we train ourselves and maintain our gear directly affects how well we can execute the ship's mission."

After more than three months of hard work, followed by a rigorous assessment process, Boxer will return home following a job well done.



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