Ships of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group steam in formation during exercise Valiant Shield in September. (U.S. Navy/PO2 Kyle Carlstrom)

SASEBO, Japan - Ships of forward-deployed Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11 began returning to Sasebo this week as their three-month Indo-Asia-Pacific region patrol as part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) comes to an end.

The Bonhomme Richard ARG/Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) team consisted of amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD 20), amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42), and Marines from the 31st MEU.

Additional supporting commands included Naval Beach Unit 7 and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25.

"The Sailors and Marines of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Readiness Group and PHIBRON 11 executed this deployment safely as a well-honed team," said Capt. Ed Thompson, commander, PHIBRON 11. "From conducting large-scale multilateral exercises like PHIBLEX (Amphibious Landing Exercise) to operating forward throughout the South China Sea, the members of this squadron remained focused on the mission and on taking care of one another like true professionals. I am extremely proud of each and everyone throughout the ARG/MEU team."

Since departing Sasebo, Japan, Aug. 4, the ships and crews of PHIBRON 11 participated in multiple exercises and events that honed their amphibious capabilities -- one of which was the U.S.-only, biennial field training exercise Valiant Shield 16, which focused on the integration of joint training in a blue-water environment among U.S. forces.

"Green Bay and the 31st MEU demonstrated a broad range of capabilities of the blue and green team during Valiant Shield 2016," said Capt. Nathan Moyer, commanding officer of Green Bay. "This lets us, as an expeditionary strike group, move into a larger picture; including operating with special forces and operating as a battle group. That allows us to strengthen our ability to project power wherever it is needed."

Another keynote event was PHIBLEX 33, an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and U.S. military forces bilateral exercise that enhanced interoperability between amphibious forces of both nations -- including the ability to provide relief and assistance in the event of natural disasters and other crises which endanger public health and safety.

Additional training events included visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) training and several live-fire exercises, including a missile exercises that saw NATO Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles and Rolling Airframe Missiles successfully intercept remote-controlled drones.

Port visits during the patrol included Bonhomme Richard and Green Bay's joint visit to Hong Kong, Bonhomme Richard's visit to Singapore, Germantown's visit to Sihanoukville, Cambodia, and Green Bay's visit to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

Operations throughout the deployment enhanced regional partnerships and continued to maintain a forward presence of naval forces to allow rapid response to any potential real-world contingency in the region.