Iwo Jima ARG ships return from deployment to Europe, Middle East

Sailors man the rails as the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) pulls into its homeport of Naval Station Mayport following deployment. Photo: US Navy

After dropping off the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit in North Carolina, nearly 1,200 sailors aboard the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) entered their homeport of Mayport, Florida, on August 9.

USS Iwo Jima returned from a six-month deployment to the US 5th and US 6th Fleet areas of operations together with other two ships from its amphibious ready group – amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21) and the Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51).

USS Oak Hill returned to its homeport in Virginia on August 7 while USS Iwo Jima and USS New York continued to Mayport.

Deployed since February 7, the Iwo Jima ARG provided an amphibious assault capability and vigilant maritime presence to US 5th and US 6th Fleet, participating in exercises Juniper Cobra and Eager Lion.

Iwo Jima also hosted a 10-day embarkation of 10 Egyptian naval officers to discuss concepts of amphibious naval operations and strengthen partner nation capabilities.

“This deployment was the most high-tempo one I’ve experienced in my 25-year naval career,” said Capt. Joseph O’Brien, Iwo Jima’s commanding officer. “The entire Navy and Marine Corps team performed extraordinarily well in an incredibly dynamic environment throughout deployment. The sailors and marines working on equipment, launching aircraft on the flight deck, conducting amphibious operations, navigating the ship and standing watch down in the plant were all at the absolute top of their game.”

Iwo Jima transited more than 31,400 nautical miles, used more than one million gallons of JP-5 fuel, received more than 3,100 pallets of cargo and logged 1,119 flight hours, flying approximately 10,100 sorties. Amphibious craft completed 2,256 passenger transfers and moved more than 7,000 tons of equipment to and from the shore.

For more than half of the sailors aboard Iwo Jima, the six-month journey served as their first deployment.

Iwo Jima made port calls in Haifa, Israel; Limassol, Cyprus; Aqaba, Jordan, and Malaga, Spain. The visits helped grow the strong alliance between the US and its partner nations as well as providing an opportunity for the crew to experience cultures from around the world.

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