USS San Diego
USS San Diego. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel M. Young

The amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego returned to its namesake home port Wednesday following its maiden deployment with two other vessels.

The San Diego, amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island and dock landing ship USS Comstock carried troops of the Camp Pendleton-based 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit on a seven-month voyage to the Western Pacific and Middle East.

Commissioned in May 2012, the San Diego sailed 26,000 nautical miles while its sailors and Marines helped with air strikes against Islamic State targets and moved three National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration researchers out of the path of a storm near Hawaii, according to the Navy.

Navy and Marine Corps recovery teams used two small boats to pluck the scientists off the remote Pearl and Hermes Atoll, which rises only a dozen feet above sea level at its highest point, and was in danger of being swamped by a storm surge, according to Navy MC1 Joseph Buliavac.

Capt. Steve McKone, commander of Amphibious Squadron 5, said his crew “had a very intense deployment that required us to execute multiple mission sets simultaneously for long periods of time.”

“The superb professionalism and work ethic of all members of the ARG/MEU team ensured we met and exceeded the mark every time,” he said. “I know these sailors and Marines are excited to be home.”

The 11th MEU landed at Camp Pendleton Monday, while Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, Detachment 2, returned to Naval Air Station North Island Tuesday.

—City News Service