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Sailors, Marines with Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group return home from deployment

Sailors and Marines of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group returned to their homeport at Naval Station San Diego, California, on Monday after seven months at sea.

Serving in the U.S. 3rd, 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation during their deployment, more than 4,500 sailors and Marines of the Makin Island ARG and embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted a wide range of operations in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions, according to the Navy. These operations included maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in support of regional security, stability and the free flow of maritime commerce in the region.

Hospitalman Allan Henson meets his newborn son upon the return of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) to Naval Base San Diego from deployment.

Hospitalman Allan Henson meets his newborn son upon the return of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) to Naval Base San Diego from deployment.
Photo Credit: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher A. Veloicaza
The Makin Island ARG consists of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship Makin Island, the amphibious transport dock ship Somerset and the amphibious dock landing ship Comstock.

The three ships were under the command of Navy Capt. Mike Crary, Commander Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5, embarked aboard Makin Island. PHIBRON 5 operated with embarked forces of 11th MEU, "Blackjacks" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21, as well as detachments from Assault Craft Unit 5, Fleet Surgical Team 5, Tactical Air Control Squadron 11 and Beachmaster Unit 1.

"The Makin Island ARG/11th MEU team provided our commanders with the world's most capable sea-based rapid-response force. Our ships and the landing force they carried gave our commanders the operational flexibility they needed to respond to a range of crises, anywhere in theater, in a moment's notice," Crary said.

"After seven months of operations, I'm still impressed by this team's capabilities. They have performed superbly together — a testament to their professionalism and dedication — and I couldn't have asked to serve with a more motivated group of sailors and Marines."

MV-22B Osprey
An MV-22B Osprey, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 (Reinforced), embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), flies above Wake Island on April 24, 2017.
Photo Credit: U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Mathew Diendorf
In both the Central and Pacific Command theaters, sailors and Marines trained with partner militaries to enhance those relationships. This included Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea in the Pacific, and Djibouti and Oman in the North Africa and the Middle East.  

"Exercises like Tiger Strike with the Malaysian armed forces and Alligator Dagger in Djibouti included hundreds of LCAC (landing craft air cushion) evolutions and flight hours," said Capt. Mark Melson, Makin Island's commanding officer. "Moving the landing force ashore and working with our partners in those countries enhanced our collective crisis-response capabilities and ensured the team's readiness to react to anything our commanders needed."

During the deployment ships also visited ports in Guam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, traveling more than 45,000 nautical miles over the seven months.

2,600 sailors and Marines from the 11th MEU recently disembarked the ships and returned to their home base at Camp Pendleton, California. The 11th MEU is consists of  the 11th MEU Command Element; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (Reinforced); Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines; and Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 11.

The deployment was the third for the Makin Island, seventh for Comstock and the first for Somerset. 

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