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3 warships, 4,500 sailors and Marines visit Pearl Harbor during deployment

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    The USS Harpers Ferry, USS John P. Murtha and USS Boxer were tied up this morning in Pearl Harbor near the USS Arizona Memorial visitor center. A Navy launch for tours of Battleship Row from the visitor center is in the foreground.

Three San Diego-based Navy warships and about 4,500 sailors and Marines stopped in Pearl Harbor for training and replenishment at the start of a deployment to the Indo-Pacific and Middle East.

Sailors and Marines from the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit left Naval Base San Diego, May 1.

The ship group — amphibious assault ship USS Boxer, amphibious transport dock USS John P Murtha and amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry — will conduct operations including maritime security and crisis response as well as theater security cooperation and Naval “presence” operations, Navy officials said.

Marines and sailors conducted training Sunday through Wednesday at Marine Corps Base Hawaii and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, exercising the “core missions” of a Marine Expeditionary Unit by seizing two airfields and establishing two forward aerial refueling points to enable forces for follow on actions, Marine Corps officials said.

Elements of the 11th MEU, which has about 2,200 Marines, also conducted aerial insertion, ground reconnaissance, small raids, jungle training and dive recertification.

“Our training in Hawaii enabled us to maintain our operational edge as an amphibious Navy and Marine Corps team,” Col. Fridrik Fridriksson, the 11th MEU commander, said in a news release. “Sustaining the skills we’ve worked so hard to attain during an intense six-month workup is essential to maintaining the readiness of our task force.”

The aircraft carrier-like Boxer carries tilt-rotor Ospreys and helicopters.

The Navy said the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group “will provide senior U.S. military leadership and coalition partners with a flexible, tailorable force which can rapidly respond to contingencies and crises within a region. With ships, aircraft, troops, and logistical equipment, the ARG/MEU is a self-contained and self-sustained task force capable of conducting missions from combat operations to providing humanitarian assistance.”

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