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PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), other ships of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) visited Pearl Harbor, Feb. 18-20.
"Pearl Harbor is rich in military history and its strategic location places it center stage in the Pacific," said Capt. Gerald Olin, commander, Amphibious Squadron 1. " The harbors and bases the Navy uses here are among the very best in the world and help ensure that naval forces in the Pacific are trained and ready to respond to any contingency. We are glad to have an opportunity to visit this wonderful port and help strengthen the Navy’s iron-clad relationship with Hawaii.”
Upon arrival to Pearl Harbor, the crew manned the rails and rendered honors to the fallen when passing the USS Arizona Memorial.
“It’s important not to lose sight of our history,” said Essex Command Master Chief Matthew Danforth. “It’s a somber reminder of the cost of freedom. Even now, we give our thanks to those who join us in our fight to keep our families, friends and countrymen safe.”
While in Hawaii, Sailors and Marines had a chance to enjoy and explore the island of Oahu. Additionally, the ships brought aboard friends and family members, known as “tigers.” During the Tiger Cruise, Sailors and Marines will have the chance to show their “tigers” what life on aboard a Navy ship is like.
"I'm personally very excited at the opportunity to show our family and friends what life at sea is all about," said Capt. Brian Mutty, Essex's commanding officer. “It's a great opportunity to showcase our incredible Sailors and the crucial missions they execute."
During their deployment the Navy, Marine Corps team participated in amphibious exercises with partner nations in the 6th, 7th and 5th Fleet areas of operation. Additionally, this deployment marked the first time the F-35B, Lightning II conducted combat operations in the Central Command area of responsibility.
"We set out to strengthen partnerships with our allies and demonstrate our combat capabilities,” said Olin. "The Sailors and Marines of the ARG worked hard as a team to make this successful.”
The Essex ARG includes the Essex, San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23) and Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47). The 13th MEU, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 1 and the “Blackjacks” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 are also embarked aboard the ships.