The ships, sailors and Marines of the San Diego-based Boxer Amphibious Ready Group edged closer to home Thursday as they entered eastern Pacific waters overseen by the Third Fleet, according to the Navy.
The 4,500 personnel aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer, amphibious transport dock USS New Orleans and amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry have been away from San Diego since Feb. 12. The Navy did not announce when they’ll arrive home.
“Everyone is excited that we are getting closer to home and will soon be reunited with family and friends,” said Capt. Patrick Foege, who commands the group. “Our sailors and Marines did incredible work throughout this deployment, from conducting strikes in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Fifth Fleet to promoting maritime security and freedom of the seas in Seventh Fleet.”
The Fifth Fleet covers the Middle East and Seventh Fleet the western Pacific.
The deployment included strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq, maritime security operations in the Gulf of Aden and Persian Gulf, numerous exercises with naval partners and visits to 10 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,” Henderson said. “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.”
Choppers from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, based at Naval Air Station North Island, are also on board the ships.
The USS Boxer is named after His Majesty’s Brig Boxer, a British vessel captured off the coast of Maine in 1813 during the War of 1812. The USS New Orleans is named after the city in Louisiana and the War of 1812 battle that took place there.
The USS Harpers Ferry is named after a raid by abolitionist John Brown on an arsenal in 1859 in the run up to the Civil War. Many of the raiders were killed, and Brown was convicted and hanged.
—City News Service
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