USS CARTER HALL, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) returned to the U.S. 2nd Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) May 8, nearly nine months after departing Little Creek, Va.
Carter Hall, which is part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), will offload Marines and cargo from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and bring families on board for a Tiger Cruise before returning to homeport.
"This is the final stop in a very lengthy and highly successful deployment," said USS Carter Hall Executive Officer Cmdr. Damon Amaral. "Everyone on board has worked extremely hard during our time at sea and will continue striving to reach the ship's goals after we return. We are maintaining focus on the current mission and looking forward to seeing our loved ones again."
The 26th MEU will offload a portion of its personnel and equipment via landing craft air cushion (LCAC) in Camp Lejeune, N.C. before arriving in Morehead City, N.C. to unload the rest of the embarked Marines and cargo.
"We have accomplished so much since we left for deployment and it is exciting to think about returning home," said Cpl. Robert Walker. "This is my second MEU deployment, and I feel fortunate that I learned new things and improved my skills during the training and exercises we took part in."
After the Marines depart, the ship will host a Tiger Cruise which allows family and friends of crew members to come on board and ride the ship back to Little Creek. This provides many Carter Hall Sailors, like Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Robert Dye, with an opportunity to see their friends and families a few days prior to homecoming.
"It has been a long deployment, and everyone is eager to see their families again," said Dye. "My dad and two brothers will be riding back with us on the Tiger Cruise. I know they are excited about seeing me and riding the ship for a few days."
Carter Hall spent the greater part of the deployment operating independently in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR before reuniting with the Kearsarge ARG in the U.S. 6th Fleet April 13.
Kearsarge ARG is led by Commander, Amphibious Squadron (COMPHIBRON) 4, and is comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), amphibious transport dock ship USS Ponce (LPD 15), and amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50). Embarked detachments include Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 6, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 21-detachment 1, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 4, Beach Master Unit (BMU) 2, and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22.
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU) is based out of Camp Lejuene, N.C., and consists of Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 3/8, Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 26, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266 (Reinforced), 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine regiment and the Command Element.
For more news from Commander, Amphibious Squadron 4, visit www.navy.mil/local/phibron4/.