In this file photo, ships of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group conduct a straits transit exercise in February. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Christopher B. Janik)

SAN DIEGO - More than 4,500 Sailors and Marines from the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are scheduled to depart San Diego May 11 for a deployment in support of the Navy's maritime strategy.

The Essex ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), the command ship for Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 3 and the 15th MEU, as well as amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD 47) and the amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage (LPD 23), which is embarking upon its maiden deployment.

"The Essex ARG/MEU has conducted a robust training cycle and has become a stronger Navy-Marine Corps team, successfully completing every evolution and certifying with flying colors," said Capt. Clint Carroll, commander, Amphibious Squadron Three. "The Sailors and Marines exemplify the hard work, dedication and unit cohesion necessary for a successful deployment. I am confident we are prepared to face any challenge and meet all missions."

After departing San Diego, Essex ARG will transit to Hawaii Operating Area where they are scheduled to participate in exercise Culebra Koa 2015 which is a U.S. Pacific Fleet training exercise designed to demonstrate and increase joint proficiency in expeditionary operations. The exercise will also serve as additional training for the Essex ARG prior to deployment to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf.

While deployed, the ARG/MEU team serves as a sea-based, expeditionary crisis response force capable of conducting amphibious missions across the full range of military operations.

The mission of the Essex ARG is to help provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the seas and provide humanitarian/disaster response as well as supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.