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Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group Completes MSO in Persian Gulf

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070423-20
Release Date: 4/23/2007 5:01:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) James Seward, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs

USS BOXER, At Sea (NNS) -- Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group (BOXESG) completed maritime security operations (MSO) in the Persian Gulf on April 16.

The strike group provided security for Iraq’s economically vital oil platforms as well as for international waters used in commercial shipping and transit. MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the North Persian Gulf and protect Iraq’s sea-based infrastructure, which provides the Iraqi people the opportunity for self-determination.

“BOXESG furthered our country’s efforts in stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq and also helped protect the maritime environment,” said Capt. Peter Dallman, commander, Amphibious Squadron (COMPHIBRON) 5.

“Our Navy and Coast Guard ships were integral to the coalition’s efforts to conduct MSO, build relations with regional nations, and to deter terrorism through our presence. Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Special Operations Capable (SOC) did some incredible things in the Al Anbar province by establishing basic local governance, establishing a local police force, and conducting counter-insurgency operations,” Dallman said.

COMBPHIBRON 5, in command of BOXESG operations, oversaw a myriad of surface and amphibious operations. USS Boxer (LHD 4)was the strike group’s flagship.

USS Howard (DDG 83) was responsible for the strike group’s air surveillance, while USS Bunker Hill (CG 52) monitored the strike group for subsurface, surface and air threats. In addition, Boxer, USS Dubuque (LPD 8) and USS Comstock (LSD 45) transported more than 2,000 Marines of the 15th MEU (SOC) and their equipment to engage in operations in Iraq. While in country, BOXESG provided them with logistics, communication and supply support.

“During our 158 days in the 5th Fleet area of operations we interacted with units from the USS Eisenhower (CVN 69) strike group, worked with the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Strike Group and the Bataan ESG,” said Capt. Bruce W. Nichols, Boxer’s commanding officer.

While conducting MSO, Boxer’s Air Intermediate Maintenance Department helped BOXESG ships, as well as other strike groups, with aircraft repairs and supply issues to help keep their aircraft operational. Boxer also utilized its medical capabilities, acting as the strike group’s mobile medical facility, conducting six surgeries at sea.

“It has been a very successful deployment,” said Boxer’s operations officer, Cmdr. Charles Sellers. “Boxer really showed what it was made of by supporting the 15th MEU (SOC) ashore and MSO. We have done our jobs exceptionally well, and now it is time to go home.”

BOXESG Sailors remained upbeat when word was passed that the deployment had been extended by keeping busy performing MSO, earning warfare and shipboard qualifications, studying for petty officer examinations, completing on board college courses, daily physical training, and keeping in touch with loved ones with letters and e-mails. Boxer also held a monthlong Captain’s Cup sporting competition in March that ended with a talent show.

“I’m proud of the way this crew responded to our double-extended deployment,” said Nichols. “It was a performance of around-the-clock grit, determination and professionalism that really showed the true colors of the crew’s character.”

Prior to leaving the Gulf, the 15th MEU (SOC) returned to Boxer, Dubuque and Comstock after completing its mission in Iraq.

“The entire MEU conducted many different missions throughout Iraq,” said Marine Capt. Andrew Kirkpatrick, 15th MEU (SOC) operations officer. “It’s good to be back on Boxer and on our way home.”

After having been at sea nearly nine months, the ships of BOXESG will return to their homeport of San Diego by June.

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