USS America (LHA 6) approaches the piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Jan. 23. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Corwin Colbert)

PEARL HARBOR - The Sailors and Marines of the America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG)/15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Jan. 22-23, for the final port call of the ARG/MEU’s deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific, Horn of Africa, Mediterranean, and Middle East.

During their seven-month deployment, the America ARG/15th MEU conducted maritime security operations and theater security cooperation in support of regional security and stability, and the free flow of maritime commerce for U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command.

“The Sailors and Marines have had an incredible deployment,” said Capt. Rome Ruiz, commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 3. “Their hard work and motivation were instrumental in the success of this task group. It is a demonstration of what can be achieved when a group of young professionals commit themselves daily to upholding the highest standards.”

While in Hawaii, the ships will be picking up what is known as “tigers;” family and friends of Sailors and Marines on board. The tigers will remain with the ships until their return to homeport and will experience shipboard life alongside their Sailor or Marine while participating in a number of events and activities while on board.

“I’m looking forward to bringing my dad aboard,” said Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Jesse Reum, assigned to America’s deck department. “He will be able to see what I do on a day-to-day basis. Although flight quarters, gun shoots, and weapons demonstrations are daily events for us on deployment, to him, they are not. I think he will really enjoy watching the things we do on board.”

This is the ARG/MEU’s last port visit before returning home. The 15th MEU will disembark during the ships’ transit and will return to their home bases throughout San Diego.

“We’re thankful to spend some time in Hawaii for our final port visit of this deployment,” said Capt. Joe Olson, America’s commanding officer. “We’re looking forward to bringing on friends and family for our journey home and adding a fun and exciting tiger cruise to an already successful deployment. Every Sailor and Marine can be proud of what we’ve achieved in the last seven months.”

The America ARG, under the operational control of PHIBRON , consists of the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22), and the amphibious dock-landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), operated with embarked 15th MEU, the “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23, 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 Marines; an aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 (Reinforced); and a combat logistics element, Combat Logistics Battalion 15.

U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy and constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions that promote ongoing peace, security, and stability throughout the Pacific.

USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Jan. 22. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Somers T. Steelman)
Sailors and Marines aboard USS America (LHA 6) render honors to the USS Arizona Memorial as the ship arrives at Pearl Harbor, Jan. 23. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Vance Hand)
USS America (LHA 6) moors alongside USS San Diego (LPD 22) and USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), Jan. 23. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Corwin Colbert)