US Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) got underway from Naval Station Mayport, Florida, on February 7 to lead a three-ship group on a deployment to Europe and Middle East.
With more than 2,500 sailors and marines aboard, USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) will spend the next six months as the lead ship of the Iwo Jima amphibious ready group (ARG).
The group includes the transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) and the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51). USS New York deployed together with USS Iwo Jima while USS Oak Hill is set to join them after departing Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Virginia Beach, on February 9.
The Navy-Marine Corps team will support maritime security operations, crisis response and theater security cooperation, while also providing a forward naval presence in Europe and the Middle East.
“We have been training for this since we returned from the last deployment,” said Capt. Joseph O’Brien, Iwo Jima’s commanding officer. “The Iwo Jima Navy-Marine Corps team brings a full range of capability from humanitarian assistance to power projection ashore. Being deployed enables us to efficiently and effectively provide combatant commanders with sea, air and land capabilities in support of national priorities. Wherever Iwo Jima ends up and whatever tasks are presented our way, these sailors and marines are ready to accomplish the mission.”
Approximately 4,500 sailors and marines will deploy with the ships and squadrons of the Iwo Jima ARG.
Iwo Jima’s deployment will include operations in the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation and, for a majority of the crew, it will be their first deployment of their military careers.
“I am very excited to go on deployment,” said Airman Michael Goodwin. “I know I’ll miss my family a lot, but I know it’ll be fun to have this experience and see some new countries at the same time.”