By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Mann
USS KEARSARGE, At Sea (NNS) -- The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), entered U.S. 2nd Fleet area of responsibility (AOR)on May 8, after completing a deployment to U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet AORs.
Entering 2nd Fleet is one of the last phases of the deployment that begun Aug. 27, when the ships deployed one month early to provide humanitarian assistance to flood-stricken Pakistan.
A portion of the Kearsarge ARG/26th MEU team detached to support the flood relief efforts while the rest of the group continued support to maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet AOR's. The Kearsarge ARG later participated in U.S. 6th Fleet operations by supporting Operation Odyssey Dawn and the NATO-led Operation Unified Protector.
"Now that we are in 2nd Fleet we are one step closer to the successful completion of a challenging, rewarding and safe deployment," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Charles Kates, Kearsarge command safety representative. "We still have a mountain of things to accomplish once we return to Norfolk. We should always keep safety in mind while on the ship and back home."
The entrance into the U.S. 2nd Fleet AOR triggers additional requirements for the Kearsarge ARG. The crew members now have to readjust to the policies and procedures of its home AOR.
"Entering 2nd Fleet is significant because all of the special entitlements that we received in 5th and 6th Fleet will stop at the end of this month," said Kearsarge Administration Officer Lt. Anthony Franklin. "We also will have an influx of new Sailors and people transferring out. The end of deployment does not mean the end of work; the crew just has different task to accomplish that are equally important."
The Kearsarge ARG is en route to disembark the 26th MEU in North Carolina and take on some family members for a "Tiger Cruise" back to homeport.
Kearsarge ARG is led by Commander, Amphibious Squadron (COMPHIBRON) 4, and is comprised of amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), amphibious transport dock ship USS Ponce (LPD 15), and amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50).
Embarked detachments include Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 6, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 21-detachment 1, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 4, Beach Master Unit (BMU) 2, and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22.
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (26th MEU) is based out of Camp Lejuene, N.C., and consists of Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 3/8, Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 26, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266 (Reinforced), 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine regiment and the Command Element.