The USS Essex steams under the Coronado Bridge. Navy photo

The USS Essex ready group deployed from San Diego without prior announcement because of what Navy officials called “reasons of operational security.”

The amphibious assault ship USS Essex, amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage and dock landing ship USS Rushmore left on Tuesday, the U.S Naval Institute website reported.

“The Essex Amphibious Ready Group with embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit got underway from San Diego, Tuesday,” Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Charlie Brown said in a statement to USNI News. “For reasons of operational security, we are not publicly disclosing any additional details.”

Typically the departures are announced days in advance so that families and the media can attend.

The ready group carries 5,000 sailors and Marines, including the “Wake Island Avengers” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 flying the new F-35B stealth fighter. The Essex is carrying the jets for the first time, along with its complement of helicopters and tiltrotors.

The Essex group completed readiness training off Southern California in late June.

The agility of the F-35B Lightning II was demonstrated at the 2017 Miramar Air Show. Photo by Chris Stone
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