In this file photo, the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group operates in the Western Pacific in October. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Dennis Grube)

SAN DIEGO - Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group is scheduled to return to Naval Base San Diego from a seven-month deployment to the Pacific, Middle East, and the Horn of Africa, May 15.

Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (MKIARG) is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45). During deployment they operated with embarked forces of 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), Amphibious Squadron Five, the "Blackjacks" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21, and detachments from Assault Craft Unit 5, Fleet Surgical Team 5, Tactical Air Control Squadron 11, and Beachmaster Unit 1.

Throughout the U.S. Pacific and Central Command areas of responsibility, the ARG/MEU trained with partner militaries to enhance relationships with those nations and to strengthen proficiency in the execution of the full spectrum of amphibious operations. In 7th Fleet, Sailors and Marines worked with militaries and self-defense forces from Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Papua New Guinea, while in 5th Fleet the team participated in exercises with forces in Djibouti and Oman.

This was the third deployment for Makin Island, the seventh for Comstock, and the first for Somerset. More than 1,100 Sailors and 1,500 Marines deployed aboard Makin Island; 375 Sailors and 700 Marines aboard Somerset; and 410 Sailors and 400 Marines aboard Comstock. U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Crary, commander, Amphibious Squadron 5, and Marine Col. Clay Tipton led the ARG/MEU team during the deployment.

"The Makin Island ARG/11th MEU team provided our commanders with the world's most capable sea-based rapid-response force. Our ships and the landing force they carried gave our commanders the operational flexibility they needed to respond to a range of crises, anywhere in theater, in a moment's notice," said Capt. Mike Crary, commander, PHIBRON 5. "After seven months of operations, I'm still impressed by this team's capabilities. They have performed superbly together - a testament to their professionalism and dedication, and I couldn't have asked to serve with a more motivated group of Sailors and Marines."

The Makin Island ARG/11th MEU provided senior U.S. military leadership and coalition partners with a flexible force able to 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 everything from combat operations to providing humanitarian assistance.

"This crew should feel extremely proud of what they accomplished over the last seven months. Right from the start, they conducted relevant, real-world operations in direct support of our country's national security goals," said Capt. Mark Melson, Makin Island commanding officer. "Throughout deployment, our Sailors and Marines worked night and day to stay at the top of their game, ready to answer the call. They're the reason we were always in the right place at the right time, ready to put Marines ashore to perform a wide range of missions. This team can hang their hats on a job well done, and now it's time to focus on being back home and reuniting with our families and loved ones."

U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy. U.S. 3rd Fleet constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions based on their complementary strengths to promote ongoing peace, security, and stability throughout the entire Pacific theater of operations.