USS San Diego (LPD 22) and embarked Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in Souda Bay, Greece, on Oct. 15, for a scheduled port visit.
The visit is part of San Diego’s planned mid-deployment voyage repair maintenance stop, and serves as an opportunity for the ship’s embarked Sailors and Marines to experience Souda Bay.
“We have been underway for a while,” said Capt. Pete Collins, commanding officer of San Diego. “Pulling in is a great way to relieve some stress and fatigue that some Sailors might be feeling at this point of our deployment.”
San Diego arrived in Souda Bay after three-and-a-half months of its deployment. Mid-deployment voyage repairs are used to complete repairs and maintenance to ensure the ship continues to be ready for the remainder of its deployment and its mission.
“It’s very necessary for us to pull in and take care of our mid-deployment voyage repair,” said Collins. “We want to make sure that we are making the most of where we are and maintaining our capabilities and operational impact.”
Sailors and Marines aboard San Diego will also have the opportunity to participate in recreational activities in Souda Bay and surrounding areas to include: a tour to the famous Minoan Palace of Knossos, a shopping tour of the city’s leather district, a tour inside the cellars of a 100-year-old traditional wine factory, and a hiking trip through many of the villages in the area.
“I think it’s great that Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) puts together all these different things to do when we pull into these foreign ports,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Esmerelda Hernandez. “Without the MWR trips, I feel like there would be a lot that I would be missing out on when we pull into port.”
San Diego is deployed with the America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 15th MEU to support maritime security and theater security cooperation in efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.
Commissioned in 2012, San Diego is the sixth ship in the San Antonio-class of amphibious landing transport dock ships. Designed as a multi-mission amphibious warship, these ships are able to support a broad range of expeditionary operations. The ship’s namesake comes from the city of San Diego which has a long mutual history with the U.S. Navy and is the fourth U.S. vessel to bear the name.
The America ARG and 15th MEU provide senior U.S. military leadership and partners with a flexible force which can rapidly respond to contingencies and crises within a region. With ships, aircraft, troops, and logistical equipment, the ARG/MEU is a self-contained and self-sustained task force capable of conducting a wide range of military operations including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
The America ARG, led by Commander, Amphibious Squadron 3, consists of San Diego, the America-class amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), and the Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52). The ships will operate with embarked forces of the 15th MEU, the “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23, and detachments from Assault Craft Unit 5, Naval Beach Group 1, Beachmaster Unit 1, Fleet Surgical Team 1 and Tactical Air Control Squadron 11.
The 15th MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force comprised of a ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment; an aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 161 (Reinforced); and a logistics combat element, Combat Logistics Battalion 15.