USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) returned to Mayport August 9 following a six-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and U.S. 6th Fleet areas of operations.
Deployed since Feb. 7 as part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), the ship provided a ready, versatile amphibious assault capability and vigilant maritime presence to U.S. 5th and U.S. 6th Fleet, participating in exercises Juniper Cobra and Eager Lion. It also hosted a 10-day embarkation of 10 Egyptian naval officers to discuss concepts of amphibious naval operations and strengthen partner nation capabilities.
“This deployment was the most high-tempo one I’ve experienced in my 25-year naval career,” said Capt. Joseph O’Brien, Iwo Jima’s commanding officer. “The entire Navy and Marine Corps team performed extraordinarily well in an incredibly dynamic environment throughout deployment. The Sailors and Marines working on equipment, launching aircraft on the flight deck, conducting amphibious operations, navigating the ship and standing watch down in the plant were all at the absolute top of their game. This is an amazing group of Sailors and Marines, and I am honored to serve with them.”
Iwo Jima transited more than 31,400 nautical miles, used more than one million gallons of JP-5 fuel, received more than 3,100 pallets of cargo and logged 1,119 flight hours, flying approximately 10,100 sorties. Amphibious craft completed 2,256 passenger transfers and moved more than 7,000 tons of equipment to and from the shore.
For more than half of the Sailors aboard Iwo Jima, the six-month journey served as their first deployment.
“This was a difficult but awesome first deployment,” said Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kenneth Ivory. “Working with everyone and doing what we are supposed to do is something I won’t forget. Also, each port visit we went to was a chance to see something new, take in the sights and try food that I couldn’t pronounce or had no idea what it was. Traveling is definitely one of the perks we have of being in the Navy.”
Iwo Jima made port calls in Haifa, Israel; Limassol, Cyprus; Aqaba, Jordan, and Malaga, Spain. The visits helped grow the strong alliance between the U.S. and its partner nations as well as providing an opportunity for the crew to experience cultures from around the world.
The Iwo Jima ARG embarks the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and includes Iwo Jima, the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), the Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), Fleet Surgical Teams 4 and 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22, components of Naval Beach Group 2 and the embarked staff of Commander, Amphibious Squadron 4.