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Kearsarge Strike Group Deploys

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050329-09
Release Date: 3/29/2005 1:00:00 PM

By Journalist 2nd Class (SW) Robert Keilman, USS Kearsarge Strike Group Public Affairs

ABOARD USS KEARSARGE, At Sea (NNS) -- The USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) got underway March 25 for their scheduled deployment.

The Kearsarge ESG is deployed in support of the continuing global war on terrorism.

"We have trained and prepared extensively these past several months as a ship's crew, a strike group and a 'Blue-Green' team with our Marines," said Capt. Luke Parent, Kearsarge's commanding officer. "It's now time to put that training into action."

Some of the group's training prior to deployment included a monthlong Expeditionary Strike Group Exercise with the 26th MEU in January, as well as a pre-deployment exercise in February to certify the 26th MEU as "special operations capable." These training exercises were critical in forging all ESG units into a cohesive fighting team for a successful deployment.

"I'm impressed with the enthusiasm of the crew," said Capt. Edward Barfield, Kearsarge ESG commander. "As I was walking up the pier toward the ship, I asked a few of the Sailors passing by if they were ready to go, and they replied, 'We are ready to go, sir.'"

For Kearsarge, this is the ship's third deployment in two years, having surge deployed in January 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and again in June 2004 to transport elements of 24th MEU to U.S. Central Command.

"Under the Fleet Response Plan, we need to be ready to go anywhere at any time," said Parent. "Our crew understands and has risen to the challenge every time to support any mission. I'm confident they will do the same again."

The Kearsarge ESG consists of the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), the amphibious transport ship USS Ponce (LPD 15), the guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), the frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59), the attack submarine USS Scranton (SSN 756) - all homeported in Norfolk, Va.; and the dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) - homeported at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va. The 26th MEU is composed of the Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HM) 162 (Reinforced), the battalion landing team, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, and the MEU Service and Support Group 26, MSSG 26 - homeported in Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Kearsarge ESG is centered on the proven flexibility and combat power of a combined Amphibious Readiness Group and Marine Expeditionary Unit. The ESG adds the robust strike, anti-air and anti-surface capabilities of a cruiser, a destroyer, a frigate and an attack submarine. These combined capabilities give the combatant commander a wider variety of options and enables independent operations in more dynamic environments.

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