By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael T. Eckelbecker, USS Boxer (LHD4) Public Affairs
| July 22, 2016
An AH-1Z Viper helicopter, assigned to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), patrols waters near the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4). Boxer is the flagship for the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 13th MEU, is deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Craig Z. Rodarte/Released)
INDIAN OCEAN - The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) concluded operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations (AOO) and entered the U.S. 7th Fleet AOO, July 23.
USS Boxer (LHD 4), USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49), along with the units of the 13th MEU, entered 5th Fleet, April 5 to provide a forward naval presence in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), theater security cooperation efforts, and maritime security operations throughout the region.
“Our operations in 5th Fleet area were significant and the ARG/MEU force brought tremendous capability to the combatant commander,” said Capt. Patrick Foege, commodore for Amphibious Squadron One. “We also integrated with our regional partners during Exercise Eager Lion and multiple subject matter expert exchanges to help cultivate interoperability and produce common understanding.”
While operating in the Arabian Gulf, Boxer joined strike aircraft operating from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), in the Mediterranean Sea, June 16 marking the first naval aviation combat strike missions of OIR launched from Navy warships in two different operational theaters.
“The Marines and sailors of the Boxer ARG/13th MEU rose to the operational challenge of the most intense area of operations under the responsibility of U.S. 5th Fleet. The hard work of our men and women supporting maritime security, counter-ISIL and other contingency operations reflects the dedication to country, fellow service-members, family, and freedom,” said Col. Anthony Henderson, commanding officer of the 13th MEU.
During their time in 5th Fleet, the Boxer ARG/13th MEU team conducted 48 visit, board, search and seizure operations, logged 2,288 flight hours and flew 1,756 sorties. AV-8B Harrier II aircraft flew a total of 351.6 contingency hours and 270 sorties, and the Harrier detachment expended 30 Joint Direct Attack Munitions in direct support of OIR missions against ISIL.
All three ships were able to conduct mid-deployment voyage repairs, and Sailors and Marines got the opportunity to experience the local culture attend Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sponsored tours, and volunteer for community relations projects during multiple port visits.
“The men and women, the Sailors and Marines, all of them warfighters here aboard Boxer, performed with honor in some grueling and hot environmental conditions,” said Capt. Mike Ruth, commanding officer of Boxer. “Their accomplishments are numerous, and they can hold their heads high knowing they were effective and produced positive results while operating in 5th Fleet.”
Boxer traveled approximately 20,972 nautical miles, conducted 13 replenishments at sea, and moved approximately 1,000 tons of equipment during three crane cargo handling operations. The Navy also spent approximately $4.66 million feeding Boxer Sailors and Marines 7,236 pounds of bacon, 73,095 pounds of chicken, 10,928 loaves of bread, 8,784 gallons of milk, and 5,699 pounds of coffee, and other food stores.
While in 7th Fleet, the Boxer ARG will conduct exercises and port visits to enhance maritime partnerships and promote peace and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
The Boxer ARG was relieved by the Wasp ARG, made up of Commander Amphibious Squadron (COMPHIBRON) 6, the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17), the amphibious dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) and Marines from the 22nd MEU.