DUQM, Oman (NNS) -- Amphibious transport dock USS Somerset (LPD 25) departed Duqm, Oman, following a port visit and mid-deployment maintenance availability, Feb. 10.
The port visit allowed Somerset to conduct maintenance required to keep the vessel mission-ready for the remainder of its deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
The crew and members of the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) also took advantage of the opportunity to experience Oman's culture during liberty.
Port facilities and services in Duqm have expanded in recent years to offer U.S. naval warships deployed to the area a wider range of maintenance and logistics capabilities. With the port's deep draft, the facility is capable of accommodating nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.
USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) tested the capabilities of the port to handle an aircraft carrier for the first time, October 2014.
The U.S. has worked closely with Oman's government to grow capabilities at the port of Duqm to provide increased logistical support for the U.S. Navy in regional security and theater security cooperation efforts. The port of Duqm provides a unique capability to support repairs and maintenance which would otherwise need to be completed in homeport.
"The port visit to Duqm, Oman, was an excellent opportunity to conduct maintenance on the ship," said Capt. Darren Glaser, commanding officer of Somerset. "The facilities and maintenance support in Duqm are top-notch and made sure we had everything we needed. For several of 'Team Somerset,' the port of Duqm was a first visit to the country of Oman, and the entire 'blue-green team' performed perfectly while enjoying their well-deserved liberty."
The nearby port of Salalah, the largest port in Oman, complements the support provided by the port of Duqm with fuel and material distribution facilities.
Strategically located on a key naval chokepoint, the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world's exported oil shipments pass, Oman plays an important role in helping the U.S. contribute to regional stability.
Somerset is deployed with the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) to support maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
The MKI ARG, comprised of Somerset, amphibious dock landing ship USS Comstock (LSD 45), and amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), the command ship for Amphibious Squadron 5 and the 11th MEU, arrived in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, Nov. 30, 2016.
The 11th MEU is a sea-based Marine Air-Ground Task Force comprised of a ground combat element, Battalion Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines; an aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 (Reinforced); a combat logistics element, Combat Logistics Battalion 11; and a command element with a commanding officer who leads the entire MEU.
While in the region, the southern California-based Navy-Marine Corps team falls under Commander, Task Force 51/5, and will help ensure the free flow of commerce, provide crisis response, and support ongoing missions in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
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For more news from USS Makin Island (LHD 8), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd8/.