Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Lynn Andrews, Amphibious Squadron Five
PEARL HARBOR (Nov. 13, 2019) -- The USS Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Nov. 13, for a port visit.
Boxer ARG and the 11th MEU are on the return leg of a Western Pacific deployment after leaving San Diego in May. While pier side at Pearl Harbor, Sailors and Marines of the Boxer ARG and 11th MEU will enjoy liberty, explore Oahu, and experience Hawaiian culture.
"It has been a successful deployment for the Sailors and Marines of the Boxer ARG and 11th MEU," said Capt. Dale Heinken, commanding officer of USS Boxer (LHD 4). "Our team deployed to Fifth and Seventh Fleets and executed every assigned task flawlessly. I am incredibly proud of them, and we look forward to a pause in our schedule to enjoy the culture and history of Hawaii as well as picking up some of our families for the return to San Diego.”
Before departing Hawaii, the ships will bring aboard friends and family members, known as “tigers” for a “Tiger Cruise” back to San Diego. The tigers will experience shipboard life alongside their Sailor or Marine while participating in events and activities while aboard.
“The Tiger Cruise is a great chance for family and friends to see how their Sailors and Marines live and work day to day,” said Senior Chief Master-at-Arms Bryan Taylor, Tiger Cruise coordinator aboard Boxer. “It also allows for civilians to see some of our capabilities as a U.S. warship, and how we operate on a daily basis while out to sea.”
Prior to the visit, the Boxer ARG/MEU participated in multiple multilateral exercises throughout the 7th Fleet area of operations to strengthen partnerships, enhance relationships, and increase combat readiness, crisis response capabilities, and communication between U.S. and partner nation forces.
The exercises were: Tiger Strike – Malaysia; CARAT Brunei; and KAMANDAG 3 - Philippines. Each exercise represented a different opportunity for the amphibious task force to conduct training with each nation’s armed forces and tackle different challenges together.
“Our team has worked hard while on deployment and arriving in Hawaii is an important step in our journey home,” said Col. Fridrik Fridriksson, commanding officer, 11th MEU. “The entire MEU is very proud of everything that we have accomplished together.”
Boxer ARG is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), amphibious transport dock ship USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26), the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49).
11th MEU consists of the Command Element; the Aviation Combat Element comprised of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (Reinforced); the Ground Combat Element comprised of Battalion Landing Team 3/5; and the Logistics Combat Element comprised of Combat Logistics Battalion 11.
U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Pacific and provides the realistic, relevant training necessary for an effective global Navy and constantly coordinates with U.S. 7th Fleet to plan and execute missions that promote ongoing peace, security, and stability throughout the Pacific.