Sailors and Marines aboard three amphibious warships operating off the coast of Hawaii are now officially ready for national tasking after months of training and quarantine, two defense officials confirmed to USNI News on Monday.
The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit completed their graduation exercise off Hawaii last week ahead of the final certification for the ARG/MEU and were officially deployed as of Friday.
USS Makin Island (LHD-8), USS San Diego (LPD-22) and USS Somerset (LPD-25) departed the West Coast in October to complete the last set of exercises ahead of the deployment with the MEU embarked.
U.S. Pacific Fleet has kept details of the deployment sparse since the Makin Island ARG left for its final set of trials.
Messages left with U.S. 3rd Fleet and PACFLEET on the status of the deployment were not immediately returned.
“The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are currently underway conducting routine operations in U.S. Third Fleet,” Cmdr. Sean Robertson told USNI News last week.
During its workups for the deployment, seven Marines and one sailor died after their amphibious assault vehicle sank during training off of San Clemente Island, Calif.
Last month, an unspecified number of sailors and Marines tested positive for COVID-19 and were isolated and removed from the ship, reported Marine Corps Times.
The deployment of the ARG is the first from the United States since the Bataan ARG returned in July with the 26th MEU embarked.
The Japanese-based 31st MEU and the America Amphibious Ready Group has deployed extensively in 2020 with USS America (LHA-6) making two extended patrols in the Western Pacific.