Three Navy Ships to Deploy to Middle East

Marines will accompany the mission, which follows the deaths last week of four Americans in Libya and increasing anti-American unrest.

Three U.S. Navy warships and an expeditionary force of Camp Pendleton-based Marines trained to extract Americans who get caught in mob violence are scheduled to depart Monday for a 7-month deployment to the Middle East and Western Pacific.

The Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group, led by the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu, includes some 4,000 Marines and sailors and is under the command of Capt. Mark Sakaguchi.

As a captain in charge of multiple amphibious ships, he will bear the title of Commodore during the deployment, according to the Navy.

Besides the Peleliu, the force includes the amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay and the dock landing ship USS Rushmore. The Peleliu returned from its most recent deployment in December 2010, and the Rushmore did so in April 2010. The Green Bay's most recent deployment ended almost a year ago.

Also deploying today is the Marine Corps' 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and elements of Fleet Surgical Team 1, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, Assault Craft Units 1 and 5, and Beach Master Unit 1.

Their departure comes against a backdrop of ongoing tensions with Iran over its nuclear program and amid anti-American unrest throughout the Muslim world, perhaps triggered by an anti-Muslim film trailer posted on the Internet.

U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans working for the State Department – including two former Navy SEALS, Encinitas resident Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods of Imperial Beach – were killed by an armed force in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Sept. 11 by extremists.

The sailors and Marines in the Peleliu Ready Group recently completed nine months of training scheduled long before the current anti-American unrest. Rescue training is a common part of pre-deployment preparation for Marine expeditionary units.

The final training was on the evacuation of non-combatants from hot spots, according to U.S military authorities. The exercise included role-players on San Nicholas Island and Victorville in San Bernardino County who were “rescued” by Marines and taken by helicopter to Camp Pendleton, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The 15th MEU was on a similar deployment when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred. Summoned back to their ships from a port-call in Australia, the Marines were among the first U.S. combat forces into Afghanistan just weeks later, the Times reported.


– City News Service


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