SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Peleliu (LHA 5), the flagship of the Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group (PELESG), along with USS Dubuque (LPD 8) and USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) returned to San Diego Nov. 4 following a six-month deployment.
While deployed, PELESG shipsconducted maritime security operations (MSOs) and theater security cooperation in the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of operation.
Capt. Jon Padfield, commander, Amphibious Squadron 3 (COMPHIBRON 3) and leader of the PELESG, said that Peleliu, Dubuque and Pearl Harbor embarked and transported the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operation to provide a rapid response capability and to participate in training exercises with coalition nations as well as conducting MSO.
"Expeditionary strike groups deploy in order to give fleet commanders the assets to accomplish a wide variety of contingency operations including the delivery of combat forces, humanitarian assistance and noncombatant evacuations in addition to MSO," said Padfield. "The Sailors and Marines of the Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group operated alongside our coalition partners to help provide security and stability in the region."
Padfield said additional highlights of the deployment included rescuing six mariners from a sinking vessel in the Strait of Balabac and helping thwart a pirate attack on a civilian merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden.
According to Col. Brian Beaudreault, commanding officer of the 15th MEU, his unit took part in two major training exercises - "Eager Mace" and "Infinite Moonlight."
"I'm confident the Marines and Sailors of the 15th MEU are proud of their many accomplishments while they were forward deployed," said Beaudreault. "Every one of them played an important role in the successful completion of bilateral exercises with a couple of our vital partners in the Middle East.
"Between superior tactical performance in the training areas and noteworthy conduct on liberty, the Marines and Sailors represented our country and Corps in a very impressive manner," added Beaudreault.
During the deployment, Peleliu made port visits to Singapore; Manama, Bahrain; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Aqaba, Jordan; as well as Fremantle/Perth and Sydney, Australia. Dubuque visited Phuket, Thailand; Manama, Bahrain; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Hong Kong; and Guam. Pearl Harbor stopped in Phuket, Thailand; Manama, Bahrain; Singapore and Guam.
Alongside the hundreds of spouses, friends and family members that gathered on the pier to welcome the Sailors and Marines home, right in the middle of the first off the ship "new dads" group from Peleliu who had children born during the deployment, there was actually one "new mom."
Senior Chief Master-at-Arms (SW/AW) Kathleen Gutierrez and her husband had decided to adopt a child several months prior to the deployment. Just nine days after Peleliu deployed, the newborn baby boy was born and the adoption was finalized.
Since that time, David Benjamin Gutierrez has been in the custody of his adopted father Joe while his adopted mother has been deployed. Like the new dads, this was the first time the new mom was able to hold her adopted child.
"I don't want to let him go," said Gutierrez. "It was hard to imagine just what it was going to be like, but I knew there would be a lot of happy tears."
More than 300 friends and family members of the crew also arrived in San Diego after joining the crew of Peleliu Oct. 27 in Pearl Harbor for a scheduled "Tiger Cruise" on the last leg of the deployment.
The other ships that make up the PELESG, USS Cape St. George (CG 71), USS Benfold (DDG 65) and USS Halsey (DDG 97), returned to San Diego Nov. 3.
For more news from USS Peleliu (LHA 5) - Peleliu Expeditionary Strike Group, visit www.navy.mil/local/lha5/.