SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors from Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5 departed Naval Station San Diego for a six-month deployment in support of the global war on terrorism Sept. 13.
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.
"We're going to be doing maritime interdiction operations in both 7th fleet and 5th fleet, making sure the sea lines of communication are safe for commerce," said Rear Adm. Mark W. Balmert, ESG 5 commander. "We bring a capability of Tomahawk Strike with this expeditionary strike group so we can respond on short notice."
The strike group completed three required work-ups this summer, including Joint Task Force Exercise, collectively preparing the group for challenges a deployment is likely to present.
"We've also trained up to respond to any humanitarian type of role," said Balmert. "We will be able to do exercises with other coalition partners at sea."
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.
The nearly 6,000 Sailors and Marines of ESG 5 said goodbye to family members and friends as they boarded their ships. For some, it is the first time to deploy; for others, this day brings back memories both pleasant and difficult.
"We've been married for 11 years and this is our fourth deployment," said a Navy spouse whose husband is aboard USS Bunker Hill (CG 52). "It's exciting for him because he gets to go to different ports, but it's very sad, as well. You just have to stay busy and think positive. All you can do is go through the phases and just pray that they come back safe and sound."
ESG 5 is comprised of USS Boxer (LHD 4), USS Dubuque (LPD 8), USS Comstock (LSD 45), USS Bunker Hill, USS Benfold (DDG 65) and USS Howard (DDG 83). Also deploying is Amphibious Squadron 5, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Coast Guard Cutter Midgett (WHEC 726) and Canadian Frigate HMCS Ottawa (FFH 341).
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