PACIFIC OCEAN – The
forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) departed
Sasebo, Japan, Jan. 26, for her annual Spring patrol throughout the
Western Pacific region.
The annual deployment will feature a series of bilateral maritime
training exercises designed to build relationships and enhance
operational readiness between U.S. and Asian-Pacific partner nations
throughout the region.
The ship’s first stop will be in Okinawa, Japan, to embark more than
1,400 Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and
Sailors assigned to Fleet Surgical Team Seven. Once onboard, Essex
will be fully operational, with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron
262 (HMM-262) and Marine Attack Squadron 211 (VMA-211) of the MEU’s
Aviation Combat Element (ACE) in place. The Sailors and Marines will
work together over the course of the deployment to enhance their
collective amphibious warfare capabilities with Western Pacific
“Essex has a very busy Spring patrol schedule ahead working with our
allies and supporting the 31st MEU,” said Capt. Brent Canady, Essex’
commanding officer. “We spent the last two months conducting
engineering repairs as well as training our Sailors for this
deployment. Once again, we are ready to work closely with our
regional partners during spring patrol.
“Perfecting our craft and enhancing the cohesion between Sailors and
Marines is vital to the success of everyone involved in Essex’
flight operations,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) First
Class (AW/SW) Giancarlo Treano.
“Our patrols are important because it allows us to support any
missions during operations and do what we have to do to accomplish
them,” said Treano.
Throughout the deployment, pilots and flight-deck personnel will
orchestrate extensive flight operations, drawing from the ACE’s full
arsenal, including CH-53E Sea Stallion, CH-46E Sea Knight, AH-1Z
Super Cobra and UH-1N Huey helicopters, as well as AV-8B Harrier jet
While Sailors and Marines will certainly keep busy on the flight
deck and in the air, those responsible for Essex’ well-deck
operations will be busy in their own right. Operating Landing Craft
Air Cushion (LCAC) vehicles assigned to Assault Craft Unit One
(ACU-5), Detachment Western Pacific, Essex will transport Marines
and their equipment to the beach during the various exercises
scheduled for the deployment.
“We always look to use these patrols as a way to create better
teamwork between our Sailors and the Marines in the well deck,” said
Boatswain’s Mate Second Class (SW) Matthew Nelson. “It doesn’t
matter what patrol or ship you’re on, teamwork is always going to be
an important factor.”
As always, Essex’ Spring patrol will serve as an opportunity for
some of the newest Sailors to experience life underway for the first
“I’m really looking forward to learning my job from the experience
of being underway,” said Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Jeremiah Maldonodo
of San Antonio. “This should be a great opportunity to get my
Once the Marines are embarked, Essex will assume the role of
flagship for the Essex Expeditionary Strike Group (ESX ESG) while
joined by the dock landing ships USS Tortuga (LSD 46) and USS
Harpers Ferry (LSD 49).
The 31st MEU is the only permanently forward-deployed MEU,
maintaining a presence in the Pacific Ocean at all times as part of
III Marine Expeditionary Force, and is based out of Marine Corps
Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, Okinawa, Japan.
Essex is commanded by Capt. Brent Canady and the lead ship of the
only forward-deployed U.S. Expeditionary Strike Group and serves as
the flagship for CTF 76, the Navy’s forward-deployed amphibious
force commander. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval
Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with a detachment in Sasebo, Japan.