SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The seven ships attached to Expeditionary Strike Group One (ESG 1) are returning home this week following a six and a half month deployment in support of the global war on terrorism.
USS Greeneville (SSN 772) returned to its Pearl Harbor homeport Feb. 27. USS Port Royal (CG 73), also from Pearl Harbor, is scheduled to arrive home March 10. The remaining ships of ESG 1, USS Peleliu (LHA 5), USS Ogden (LPD 5), USS Decatur (DDG 73), USS Jarrett (FFG 33) and USS Germantown (LSD 42) are headed home to San Diego and will arrive March 9.
The strike group is centered around its flagship, Peleliu, and combines the Navy Amphibious Squadron and Marine Expeditionary Unit with the proven strike, anti-air, anti-surface and anti-submarine capabilities of a cruiser, a destroyer, a frigate and a fast-attack submarine.
"It's good to be back after achieving what we set out to do--provide persistent combat power to regional and combatant commanders in the war on terrorism," said Rear Adm. Bob Conway, Commander, ESG 1.
ESG 1's deployment consisted of operations in Iraq, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa.
The group conducted humanitarian assistance and security and stabilization missions in Iraq, as well as Operation Iraqi Freedom Maritime Interception Operations on land in southern Iraq and at sea in the Persian Gulf. They also patrolled international waters in the Red Sea and Horn of Africa to deter the transport of terrorist personnel and equipment.
The patrols yielded success when, in December, ESG 1 units were involved in two separate interception operations in the Persian Gulf. The first came Dec. 15 when USS Decatur (DDG 73) detained a dhow and its 12 crew members and seized upward of $10 million in hashish. Two weeks later, Peleliu and elements of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), along with USS Port Royal (CG 73) and USS Germantown (LSD 42), worked with Australian patrol aircraft in the detention of another dhow and its 15 crew members, seizing 2,800 pounds of hashish with an estimated street value of $11 million.
"This mission was perfectly suited to our capabilities," Conway said following the takedown. "We are designed to provide combatant commanders the flexibility to conduct operations across the spectrum of conflict. The immediate nature of this tasking challenged our ability to locate and take down the dhow on short notice. It really demonstrates the kind of speed to execution vital for missions of this kind."
The drug seizure was not the only time the strike group would engage in coalition operations. ESG 1's most complex coalition mission came in January, when the group served as command and control for Exercise Sea Saber, a coalition maritime interdiction training exercise.
"We operated very closely with forces from Britain, France, Spain, Japan and Australia, and conducted engagement exercises with United Arab Emirates and Kenya. Each of these countries are committed partners in the global war on terror. We have hosted many of their commanders and commanding officers aboard the flagship, and when they can see first hand the robust capabilities and flexibility the we provide the combatant commander, I believe it leaves no doubt in their minds how the ESG exemplifies U.S. commitment to the war on terror," Conway said.
The 5,000 Sailors and Marines assigned to ESG 1 will soon return to their homeports for time with family and friends. They do so with the knowledge that they were the first to deploy as an Expeditionary Strike Group.
"Every Sailor and Marine in this strike group is a plankowner in our service's transformation. That title has come with tremendous sacrifice in time, in energy and in our individual preferences," Conway said. "Breaking with paradigms is a difficult prospect to consider, let alone execute. But did they do it? You bet they did. They made it happen the way they always make it happen, and I am very proud of all our Sailors and Marines."
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