PACIFIC OCEAN - The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) team completed operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations (AOO) and entered the U.S. 3rd Fleet AOO, Aug. 25.
The ARG/MEU team is returning to the U.S. following a deployment that saw their forces operate in the 3rd, 5th, and 7th Fleet AOOs in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, theater security cooperation, and marine interdiction operations while providing combatant commanders with a sea-based theater reserve force ready to conduct missions across the range of military operations.
“Everyone is excited that we are getting closer to home and will soon be reunited with family and friends,” said Capt. Patrick Foege, commodore for Amphibious Squadron One. “Our Sailors and Marines did incredible work throughout this deployment, from conducting strikes in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in 5th Fleet to promoting maritime security and freedom of the seas in 7th Fleet.”
"This Western Pacific 16-1 Deployment has demonstrated a significant high operational tempo. We struck ISIS militants in Iraq, trained with partner nations in nearly every time zone between Hawaii and Djibouti, Africa, conducted maritime security operations in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Gulf, and we have had the opportunity to experience foreign cultures in 10 different countries during port calls," said Col. Anthony Henderson, commanding officer of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. "The Marines and Sailors of the Fighting 13th performed terrifically throughout the last seven months. While we stand ready to support any potential mission, we anxiously anticipate reuniting with our friends, families, and the San Diego community that have supported us throughout the duration of this deployment."
The Boxer ARG/13th MEU team entered 7th Fleet July 23 and conducted theater security cooperation exercises with Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia helping to enhance maritime partnerships and improve military cooperation throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
"These exercises help strengthen ties with our regional allies and build our capacity for coalition and joint operations," said Lt. Col. Philip Waggoner, 13th MEU operations officer.
While operating in 7th Fleet, Boxer conducted approximately 285 hours of flight operations including 1,182 launches and recoveries encompassing 214 sorties and traveled approximately 9,511 nautical miles.
“I couldn’t be prouder of how well the Boxer crew performed while in 7th Fleet,” said Capt. Mike Ruth, commanding officer of amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). “Both on liberty and while executing missions and operations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, Boxer’s Sailors and Marines once again knocked it out of the park! I look forward to finishing strong in 3rd Fleet, with a safe return to San Diego.”
During their time in 7th Fleet, Sailors and Marines from ARG/MEU team conducted port visits in Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Malaysia where they attended Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sponsored tours and had the opportunity to volunteer their free time to participate in cultural exchange and community service events like interacting with students in Genesis School for special education and serving food to senior citizens at Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen.
“COMRELs [community exchange projects] in Singapore, or any location, are intended to help people better understand different cultures, removing the mystery of ‘who’ the other person is,” said Cmdr. Charles Hodges, Boxer’s chaplain. “Through this exchange, the two groups come to realize that we are not much different from each other.”
While in 7th Fleet, the ARG/MEU team was assigned to Commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force, headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa.
U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy.
Boxer ARG is comprised of Amphibious Squadron (COMPHIBRON) 1, Boxer, amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49).