More than 2,500 Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) departed the ship’s homeport of Naval Station Mayport, Florida, for a scheduled six-month deployment Feb. 7.
The Navy-Marine Corps team will support maritime security operations, crisis response and theater security cooperation, while also providing a forward naval presence in Europe and the Middle East.
“We have been training for this since we returned from the last deployment,” said Capt. Joseph O’Brien, Iwo Jima’s commanding officer. “The Iwo Jima Navy-Marine Corps team brings a full range of capability from humanitarian assistance to power projection ashore. Being deployed enables us to efficiently and effectively provide combatant commanders with sea, air and land capabilities in support of national priorities. Wherever Iwo Jima ends up and whatever tasks are presented our way, these Sailors and Marines are ready to accomplish the mission.”
Iwo Jima is the lead ship of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), which is also composed of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, the transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8 and FST-4, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22, components of Naval Beach Group (NBG) 2 and the embarked staff of Amphibious Squadron 4.
Approximately 4,500 Sailors and Marines will deploy with the ships and squadrons of the Iwo Jima ARG.
Iwo Jima’s deployment will include operations in the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation and, for a majority of the crew, it will be their first deployment of their military careers.
“I am very excited to go on deployment,” said Airman Michael Goodwin. “I know I’ll miss my family a lot, but I know it’ll be fun to have this experience and see some new countries at the same time.”
The Iwo Jima ARG is capable of performing expeditionary operations on remote shores in support of national policy. Other capabilities include rendering humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, promoting maritime security, rescuing distressed mariners, evacuating non-combatant Americans and exercising with partner nations to promote theater security cooperation.