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Commander ESG 3 Visits Essex to Talk Hull Swap

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS120123-01

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Linda S. Swearingen, USS Essex Public Affairs

SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- The commander of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3 visited forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) Jan. 23 to discuss the upcoming hull swap with USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6).

During the visit, Rear Adm. Gerard P. Hueber met with Rear Adm. J. Scott Jones, commander of Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet; Capt. David Fluker, Essex commanding officer; and Capt. Bradley Lee, commander of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11 to discuss Essex's plan of action and preparation for the swap.

"Essex has been planning for the hull swap for well over a year now, and we have been coordinating with Bonhomme Richard to ensure everything goes smoothly and according to plan," said Fluker. "The admiral's visit was a great chance to demonstrate Essex' plans to date for this complex evolution. Our Sailors have been working diligently to prepare the Essex for her new home and crew."

During the ship's 11-year assignment to the U.S. 7th Fleet, Essex provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to several countries in the region and maintained strong relationships with partner navies in the Pacific.

After the hull swap, Essex will return to its home port of San Diego, and Bonhomme Richard will remain in Sasebo, Japan to become the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious assault ship.

Essex is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group and reports to Commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet, headquartered in Okinawa, Japan.

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