Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group Enters Persian Gulf

USS Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) entered the Persian Gulf in September to conduct Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in regional waters and provide air support to ground forces operating in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Norfolk-based ships entered the region as part of an ongoing rotation of forces, demonstrating the United States’ continued resolve toward enhancing regional security and promoting long-term stability.

Kearsarge ESG is comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), embarked Marines of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), amphibious transport dock USS Ponce (LPD 15), dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), guided-missile frigate USS Carr (FFG 52), guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69), and fast-attack submarine USS Miami (SSN 755).

Capt. Robert Bougher, commander of the Kearsarge ESG, said the strike group enters the Persian Gulf able to perform a full-spectrum of capabilities that can counter any threat, as well as provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief, if requested.

“We trained hard to prepare ourselves for the challenge of this deployment, and I’m completely confident that we will complement our regional and Coalition partners well,” said Bougher. “We bring a wide range of capabilities to the table that will ensure the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment are met.”

The expeditionary strike group supports every major maritime warfare function, including air defense, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, air strike capability and missile defense.

The 22nd MEU is a force capable of conducting amphibious operations, aviation operations and ground combat operations. The unit is composed of a Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, an Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced), a Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22 and its Command Element.

Kearsarge ESG is also capable of providing advanced disaster relief and medical support. Kearsarge alone can treat over 600 patients while still providing essential treatment to crew members and embarked troops.

While operating in the Mediterranean, the strike group visited 13 ports in eight nations and participated in over 20 community relations events in two weeks, further strengthening partnerships between the United States and partner countries.

After transiting the Suez Canal, the group made a brief stop in Djibouti to provide humanitarian supplies to two charities through the Navy’s program “Project Handclasp.”

Through this and other humanitarian efforts, the Navy is able to promote mutual understanding, respect and good will between Americans and the citizens of other countries.

Maritime Security Operations help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment and complement the counterterrorism and security efforts in regional nations’ littoral waters.