F-35B lands on USS Making Island
A Marine F-35B Lightning II stealth jet prepares to land on the USS Makin Island in a Navy photo released May 11.

More than 5,000 sailors and Marines aboard the ships of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group are returning to San Diego this weekend after a seven-month deployment, the Navy announced Friday.

The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island and amphibious transport dock ships USS San Diego and USS Somerset arrived off Camp Pendleton on Friday to disembark elements of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and will then return to Naval Base San Diego.

“I am so proud of the resilience and strength of character our sailors and Marines displayed while serving our nation across four different fleets,” said Capt. Henry Kim, commander of the ready group.

“Despite the additional challenges of protecting a COVID-free bubble within the ARG, our Blue-Green Team determinedly exemplified the mottos of all three ships, ‘Gung Ho!’ ‘Stay Classy!’ and ‘Let’s Roll!’”

The ready group departed Nov. 10 and operated off Somalia, in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, in the disputed South China Sea, and finally in the Gulf of Alaska

“This deployment has been operationally diverse — from operating in the heat during Operation Octave Quartz to the cold weather for Northern Edge,” said Capt. Tom Ulmer, Makin Island’s commanding officer. “We have sailed independently as well as formed expeditionary strike forces with partners, allies, and other U.S. forces including the French carrier, Charles De Galle, and USS Theodore Roosevelt strike groups.”

The ready group conducted more than 10,000 hours of flight operations, 6,800 launch and recoveries, and traveled more than 135,000 nautical miles of open ocean and restricted water transits.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.