NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — More than 4,500 sailors and Marines serving on the USS Kearsarge and USS Arlington returned to Naval Station Norfolk Thursday following a seven-month deployment.
The Kearsarge ARG consists of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), the amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24), the dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 2 and FST 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26, Tactical Air Control Squadron 21, components of Naval Beach Group 2 and the embarked staff of Amphibious Squadron 6.
“The Marines actually were supporting operations in Syria and Afghanistan. We supported Balt ops with our partner nations up on the Baltic, we operated the Black Sea operations in the Middle East,” explained Commander of Amphibious Squadron 6, Joseph O’Brien.
According to U.S. Navy officials, the Navy-Marine Corps team conducted a seven-month deployment in support of maritime security operations, crisis response and theater security cooperation.
The team also provided a forward naval presence in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
Kearsarge and Arlington are homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, and the 22nd MEU is stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
“The sailors behind us they look like a sea of white, but they’re all unique, they’ve got things going on if you didn’t pick up on it the first ones we let off were 21 dads waiting to see their babies, it was fantastic, ” said USS Kearsarge Commanding Officer, Captain Jason Rimmer.
“A few times we were able to do video chat I was able to see him, but to be able to hold him for the first time obviously there are tears in my eyes,” said sailor Brian Anderson as he held his son.
“I left when he was 6 months, so he was only crawling, now he’s walking, saying a few words, he has teeth. I’m just amazed by all of it,” explained sailor James Rossetti after being reunited with his child.
Rimmer says early into the trip, they were instrumental in saving a man’s life.
“When we crossed the Atlantic, our kind of warm up operation was we saved the life of a British mariner he was literally in the middle of the Atlantic with no means of getting medical care. And here we are with a roll to hospital and got him a helicopter and undoubtedly saved his life,” Captain Rimmer recalled.
Rimmer says from here, they will work on maintenance of the ships and likely won’t deploy again for another two and a half years.