Essex Ready Group Completes Training with F-35s Prior to Deployment

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The USS Essex enters San Diego Bay off Shelter Island. Photo by Jennifer Vigil

Sailors of the USS Essex amphibious ready group and Marines attached to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit completed a major exercise off the coast of Southern California on Friday.

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The composite training unit exercise, or COMPTUEX, involved the amphibious assault ship USS Essex, amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage, and amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore.

Attached to the ships were helicopter, tiltrotor, jet fighter, assault craft and ground combat units, as well as a variety of supporting teams.

The training included the Marines’ new F-35B stealth fighters, and the Essex will be the first U.S.-based assault ship to deploy with the fifth-generation jets.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the efforts of our sailors and our Marines,” said Capt. Gerald Olin, commander of Amphibious Squadron 1. “They have worked extremely hard as a fully integrated team over the past three months of fully integrated training and have proven their abilities to execute the entire mission set.”

The training was in preparation for deployment and included exercises in providing humanitarian assistance, non-combatant evacuation, assisting the State Department, maritime interdiction operations, anti-piracy operations, close-air support, air assaults, reconnaissance, and amphibious landings with the integrated Marine forces.

The Navy’s amphibious ready units give the United States the ability to land and secure beachheads anywhere in the world in the event of a crisis.

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