SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- More than 6,000 Sailors and Marines of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5 left San Diego on a routine Western Pacific deployment Dec. 6.
While on deployment, the ships of the ESG will operate in the Pacific and Indian Oceans in support of the global war on terrorism and other missions as assigned by naval leadership.
ESG 5 completed its final preparations for deployment in November during a U.S. 3rd Fleet Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) off the southern coast of California.
USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), the flagship of Expeditionary Strike Group 5, is commanded by Rear Adm. Chistopher C. Ames. Embarked Marines of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) (Special Operations Capable) are part of ESG 5, along with amphibious ships USS Duluth (LPD 6) and USS Rushmore (LSD 47), guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69), and frigate USS Thach (FFG 43).
The San Diego-based ships left early in the morning, after Sailors and Marines said their goodbyes to family and friends who stood at the end of the pier.
"It was hard to say goodbye," said Anna Aquino, the mother of Marine Cpl. Juan Aquino who is deployed aboard Rushmore. "But this is his job and we're getting used to it," she added.
Attack submarine USS Pasadena (SSN 752), homeported in Honolulu, and U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro (WHEC 724), homeported in Alameda, Calif., are also part of the ESG.
ESG 5 is, from a naval perspective, a "one-stop shop" for the global war on terrorism. It represents a revolutionary concept for fighting terrorists in the world's littorals by harnessing the striking power of 6,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, seven surface ships, a submarine, more than 30 aircraft, high-speed landing craft and the firepower of the 15th MEU.
The Expeditionary Strike Group is a flexible naval force that can operate in shallow, narrow waterways or the open ocean, day and night, in all weather conditions, in support of Marine or joint forces operating in near-shore regions or deep inland.
Bonhomme Richard returned to San Diego in July 2003 after a successful six-month deployment in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
For related news, visit the Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/c3f.