USS IWO JIMA, At Sea (NNS) -- The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) entered U.S. 6th Fleet's Area of Responsibility (AOR) April 4.
The day is a major milestone, as it is the maiden deployment for the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), as well as the long awaited return from both multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and amphibious dock-landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), the triad of warships that make up the Iwo Jima ARG.
While in the area, the Iwo Jima ARG is mission capable to assist in a full range of maritime security operations, provide crisis response capability, increase theater security cooperation and provide forward naval presence in the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation.
"Chopping into 6th Fleet is a normal progression for our deployment, said Capt. Andrew J. Loiselle, commanding officer USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44). "During our time here, we will be in support of both EUCOM and AFRICOM and will participate in exercise African Lion with Morocco. We have spent a long time during work-ups preparing for any contingency that may arise while we are in the 6th Fleet AOR. The team is ready."
The process for becoming not just deployment ready, but becoming a commissioned U.S. vessel and learning to act as a cohesive team was a challenge for the New York, but they took it in stride.
"Both material wise and training wise with a very junior crew with not a whole lot of real world experience or anything to go on," said Cmdr. William C. Herrmann, commanding officer of USS New York (LPD 21), "we've managed to go through the intermediate training phase nearly flawlessly. We've excelled at just about every warfare area that was given to us. We've accomplished every task given and that's a testament to the desire, New York never fails and that is on the deck plates. That's the deck plate Sailors who are making that happen."
Along with the pressures of being a warship on its first deployment, New York has the honor of being a symbol of the American people's strength, resilience and fortitude, while being a global force for good.
"You can't have a story about the New York without talking about the steel that's in the stem, and how integral that is to the ship and the way we conduct our mission," Herrmann said. "It's almost palpable when you step on this ship, you can feel something different about the New York. Realizing that the New York is what the New York is and that the steel in the stem represents so much to so many people."
As with any Navy evolution, exercise or mission, safety is of the utmost importance, the Iwo Jima ARG plans to exemplify that while carrying out the Navy's mission. "As we go over to areas of the world where they don't necessarily like us means we have to be more vigilant," said Herrmann. "To be more prepared for anything to happen and be on the look out to ensure this ship stays safe, that this ship accomplishes the missions it's tasked with," said Herrmann.
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