USS San Antonio is expected to return to Naval Station Norfolk Oct. 8.
Carter Hall and San Antonio departed Naval Station Norfolk Feb. 12 with the IWOARG to begin certification training followed by a transit of the Atlantic Ocean.
During the deployment, Carter Hall participated in CONTEX-PHIBEX 21 off the coast of Portugal before transiting the Mediterranean Sea and Suez Canal into the Red Sea. Carter Hall visited Naval Support Activity Bahrain several times and became one of the first ships to conduct off-base liberty in U.S. 5th Fleet since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“Carter Hall Sailors and 24 MEU Marines did a fantastic job," said Cmdr. LaDonna Simpson, commanding officer, USS Carter Hall (LSD 50). "As part of a collaborative effort with USS San Antonio and Naval personnel stationed in the operating area, our team effort made a lifelong impact for thousands of Afghan families. Carter Hall crew members embodied the ship's motto, "Working for Peace; Ready for War" as they adjusted to an ever changing mission set, doing so with eagerness and determination.”
Carter Hall visited seven ports during its deployment including Plymouth, United Kingdom; Lisbon, Portugal; Rota, Spain; Souda Bay, Greece; Aqaba, Jordan; Jebel Ali, UAE; and Manama, Bahrain.
San Antonio participated in Fleet Battle Problem and Exercise Ragnar Viking, a multilateral operational exercise exhibiting high-end NATO alliance cohesion, solidarity, and credibility in the Norwegian, North, and Baltic Seas.
"San Antonio successfully did everything an LPD is designed to do while on deployment,” said Capt. Robert Bibeau, commanding officer of San Antonio. “Even with the restrictions that came with deploying during a pandemic, we were able to do some truly amazing things over the course of the last eight months.”
“We traversed a good portion of the world, from the Arctic Circle to the Arabian Gulf, conducted LCAC and flight operations, delivered our Marines safely and efficiently wherever they needed to go to accomplish the mission, and even ran a facility ashore overseas supporting personnel evacuating from Afghanistan,” said Bibeau. “I cannot say enough about the crew's flexibility and resiliency, and we are excited to return home to our families who have supported us throughout this challenging but rewarding year."
Both ships participated in Operation Allies Welcome helping facilitate the safe transit of more than 7,000 U.S. citizens and evacuees traveling from Afghanistan through Bahrain.
The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit is comprised of 4,300 Sailors and Marines.
The IWOARG consists of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), and the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17). Embarked detachments for the IWOARG include Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) Four, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) Six, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 21, Naval Beach Group (NBG) Two, Beach Master Unit (BMU) Two, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) Two and Four, and Sailors from Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) Two.
The 24th MEU mission is to provide the United States with a forward-deployed, amphibious force-in-readiness capable of executing missions across the full spectrum of combat and military operations other than war and consists of four basic elements – a command element, a ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team (BLtT) 1/8, a logistics combat element, Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 24, and an aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162 Reinforced.
The flagship Iwo Jima is scheduled to return to its homeport early next week.
For the latest details about USS Carter Hall follow: https://www.facebook.com/USSCarterHall or USS San Antonio at https://www.facebook.com/usssanantonio/
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