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Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group Reunites For Final Push Home

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110505-08

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Mann, Commander, Amphibious Squadron 4 Public Affairs

ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- Ships of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and Marines of 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU) concluded their final port visit in Rota, Spain, May 3.

The amphibious transport dock USS Ponce (LPD 15) was joined on April 30 by amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) in Rota to take on supplies, off-load ammo, refuel, perform maintenance, and prepare for the transatlantic journey to homeport.

Kearsarge and Ponce also hosted a Navy Shipboard Inspection Survey (INSURV) team which inspects the material condition of the ships.

"Kearsarge will conduct INSURV in August of 2012. While in Rota, we had our one year out assessment; this gave us a snapshot of where we are in our preparations for the inspection next August," said Lt. Cmdr. Mark Harris, Kearsarge C5I officer.

The Kearsarge ARG conducted disaggregated operations for most of its U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility (AOR) deployment. Kearsarge and Ponce entered the U.S. 6th fleet AOR, in early March, to support Operation Odyssey Dawn and the follow-on NATO-led Operation Unified Protector. Carter Hall completed its U.S. 5th Fleet tasking and entered the U.S. 6th Fleet to support Operation Unified Protector April 13. This April encounter was the first time the entire Kearsarge ARG had worked together since October 2010.

"We spent a great deal of time conducting split ARG operations during this deployment and each ship was successful in completing their individual missions," said Commanding Officer, USS Carter Hall, Cmdr. George Doyon. "Carter Hall is excited to be back together with the rest of the ARG."

With the last port visit behind them, the Kearsarge ARG is focused on the next stage of its 2010-2011 deployment.

"The ability to execute diverse missions over multiple fleets is a testament to the versatility of the amphibious navy," said Commodore, Kearsarge ARG, Capt. Peter Pagano. "We still have a very busy schedule ahead of us, we must stay focused and continue to prepare as we transit to offload 26th MEU."

The Kearsarge ARG/26th MEU is scheduled to return to homeport mid-May. After Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266 (Reinforced) flies off, the Marines and vehicles of 26th MEU will debark and ships of the ARG will take on some of their family members for a "Tiger Cruise" back to homeport.

Kearsarge ARG is led by Commander, Amphibious Squadron (COMPHIBRON) 4, and is comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), amphibious transport dock ship USS Ponce (LPD 15), and amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50). Embarked detachments include Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 6, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 21-detachment 1, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 4, Beach Master Unit (BMU) 2, and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22.

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU) is based out of Camp Lejuene, N.C., and consists of Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 3/8, Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 26, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266 (Reinforced), 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine regiment and the Command Element.

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