SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- More than 4,000 Sailors and Marines embarked aboard three amphibious warships steamed away from their homeport of San Diego Dec. 1, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Sailors aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), USS Ogden (LPD 5) and USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) set sail with Marines from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The three ships form an Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), led by Amphibious Squadron 3. The ARG was ordered to deploy 45 days earlier than originally scheduled, to join America's war against international terrorism.
The ARG and embarked MEU have successfully trained and operated in several fleet exercises in the past few months with the latest military state-of-the-art technology.
Now these naval expeditionary forces are heading west, ready to support combat operations as directed by the National Command Authority.
Information Systems Technician Seaman Kevin McKnight, a 20-year-old aboard Bonhomme Richard, said he had mixed emotions about the war on terrorism.
One of three brothers serving in the military, McKnight said he was concerned about the possibility of his brothers serving on the front lines of the battle in Afghanistan. However, he added, the acts of terrorists on Sept. 11 could not go unanswered.
"(The terrorists) flew planes into the World Trade Center," McKnight said. "We have to show them that America's not going to stand for that."
ARG ships embark more than 30 Marine Corps and Navy aircraft, including helicopters and Harrier attack jets.
In addition, the ships transport numerous amphibious combat vehicles, armored tanks, artillery pieces and landing craft capable of launching sea-based surface amphibious assault operations from over the horizon.
For information on USS Bonhomme Richard, go to http://www.lhd6.navy.mil/welcome.htm.