SECNAV Censures Retired Marine General, Navy Officers Over 2020 Fatal AAV Sinking

The Navy’s top civilian leader issued formal administrative punishments to five senior officers for their part in the fatal 2020 sinking of a Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicle that killed eight Marines and a Navy corpsman, officials confirmed Monday. The action by Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, who became secretary in August 2021, is the […]

Secretary of the Navy censured five officers related to the 2020 AAV sinking off California. Clockwise from top left: Capt. J.W. David Kurtz, retired Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, Lt. Col. Keith Brenize , Capt. Stewart Bateshansky, Col. Christopher Bronzi. USNI News Photo Graphic

The Navy’s top civilian leader issued formal administrative punishments to five senior officers for their part in the fatal 2020 sinking of a Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicle that killed eight Marines and a Navy corpsman, officials confirmed Monday.

The action by Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, who became secretary in August 2021, is the latest fallout from the July 30, 2020 mishap that later led to the firings of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, leaders. Three separate investigations found a “chain of failure” at nearly every level of command that included failures to enforce or ignorance of safety protocols and standard operating procedures for shipboard and waterborne operations.

Del Toro, citing various failures on their part and separate roles, issued secretarial letters of censure to:

  • Retired Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, who was in command of I Marine Expeditionary Force on the day of the mishap. Osterman turned over command of the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based I MEF just the following day, July 31, 2020, to Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl.
  • Col. Christopher Bronzi, commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Bronzi, a combat veteran and Silver Star recipient, was removed from command in March, eight months after the sinking. Most recently he has been assigned and working at Marine Corps headquarters.
  • Lt. Col. Keith Brenize, who was in command of 3rd Amphibian Assault Battalion at Camp Pendleton at the time that his unit provided AAVs and the AAV Platoon for BLT 1/4, the 15th MEU’s ground combat element. The vehicles’ poor condition and the platoon’s lack of training were among problems cited by mishap investigators that ultimately led to the sinking. Brenize was ordered to a Board of Inquiry, held at Quantico, Va., in December and in February to show cause as to why he should be retained in the service. Brenize was attending top-level school at Quantico following completion of his command tour at 3rd AA Battalion in June 2020.
  • Navy Capt. Stewart Bateshansky, who was commander of Amphibious Squadron 3 and served as commodore of the amphibious task force comprised of the USS Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and the 15th MEU. Bateshansky had served as USS Somerset‘s (LPD-25) commander and executive officer before becoming commodore and is assigned to the Navy staff as the deputy for surface combatant modernization, maintenance and operations (N96).
  • Navy Capt. John Kurtz, Somerset‘s skipper at the time of the sinking, handed over command to his replacement in September 2021. “Being your commanding officer has been one of the highlights of my career,” Kurtz said during the change-of-command ceremony in San Diego, according to a Navy news release. “It has been a true honor to serve with those aboard this vessel and represent what this ship means not just to us but to those who we honor. The crew of this ship will continue to achieve excellence in everything that they do, because I know they can. They have proven it time and time again. It is a bittersweet moment to leave, but I know this ship will continue onto bigger and better things.”

The AAV, carrying 16 personnel, took on water and sank in the Pacific while returning to amphibious transport dock USS Somerset (LPD-25) after an amphibious raid training on San Clemente Island. Killed in the mishap were: Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, Calif.; Cpls. Wesley A. Rodd, 23, of Harris, Texas, and Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, Calif.; Lance Cpls. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, Calif., Guillermo S. Perez, 19, of New Braunfels, Texas, and Chase D. Sweetwood, 19, of Portland, Ore.; and Pfcs. Bryan J. Baltierra, 19, of Corona, Calif., Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wisc., and Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, of Bend, Ore.

“When leaders’ actions or inactions result in the loss of life or capital resources, the senior leadership of the Department of the Navy has a responsibility to determine the root cause and hold those accountable,” Del Toro said in a message sent to the Department of the Navy on June 2. “Following a thorough review of the command investigations into the AAV sinking, these officers received [secretarial letters of censure] due to their inadequate leadership and execution of their oversight duties.”

While Bronzi was fired from command and Brenize was administratively punished at the retention board, Del Toro told families in a notification that he “determined additional accountability measures were necessary,” according to part of the notification received by one of the families and shared with USNI News. The secretary also “determined” that Osterman, Kurtz and Bateshansky “bear some responsibility for the mishap and have held them accountable.”

Secretarial letters of censure are administrative actions, and the letter is placed in the officer’s official service record. Officers cannot appeal the censure, but they can rebut in writing and have it included in the record. The letter isn’t career-ending but is often seen as derogatory material for a promotion or assignment board to consider.

Marines with Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/4, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, operate AAV-P7/A1 assault amphibious vehicles onto the well deck of the amphibious landing dock USS Somerset (LPD-25) on July 27, 2020. US Marine Corps Photo

Some of the families have been holding out for what they say is accountability for the failures and negligence that they say led to their sons’ deaths and injuries to other Marines who survived the sinking.

In the notification to families, Del Toro indicated he had thoroughly reviewed the investigations into the mishap. Three were publicly announced and released: the command investigation into the mishap ordered by Marine Corps Forces Pacific and released in March 2021; the Marine Corps investigation ordered by the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps into the organization, compositing and training of the 15th MEU, completed in May 2021; and the Navy’s investigation ordered by the vice chief of naval operations and released in October 2021.

Peter Ostrovsky, whose son Jack Ryan died in the sinking, said he was surprised by the Navy secretary’s actions. He’s been awaiting word about the final dispositions for a series of boards of inquiry that were held at Camp Pendleton earlier this year for the former commanders of BLT 1/4, Bravo Company, 1/4, and the AAV Platoon commander. The final results of those BOIs have not been announced publicly by I Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton.

“I think it’s the secretary of the Navy closing the gaps,” Ostrovsky said by phone. The issuance of the censure letters “is bigger on its face.”

Remains of Marines and sailor killed in AAV incident arrive in Dover Air Force Base, Del., on Aug 12, 2020. US Marine Corps Photo

For the Ostrovskys, who will bury their son’s remains at Arlington National Cemetery in September, the secretary’s decisions are just part of a larger accounting for all the failures on that day that the families, as well as the survivors, have been awaiting.

“This was bigger than nine lives. That whole company was at risk that day,” Ostrovsky said, noting how other AAVs in that return to ship grappled with water intrusion.

Ostrovsky, who sat in the hearing room earlier this year for the BOIs at Camp Pendleton, said he was beyond disappointed at what he heard in testimonies from the officers whose careers were on the line and who didn’t acknowledge the dire situation and dangers the Marines encountered during the training. One officer testified that he wouldn’t have done anything differently.

“It was not a success by any means,” Ostrovsky said. “It was a complete failure on their parts.”

Only one survivor testified at all the hearings – the driver of the ill-fated amtrac – but none of the other survivors testified, said Ostrovsky. “How about the platoon infantry commander who was aboard? He survived. What about the other survivors, the guys on the top of the vehicle who got washed off?” he said. “We walked about with the feeling that this was all an oversimplification” of what happened.

Ostrovsky said he was heartened to see Del Toro pointedly call out each officer for their failures as noted in the investigations. “They don’t pull any punches,” he said. “It’s kind of like bookends.”

Navy Landing Craft, Air Cushions 39 and 79 assigned to Assault Craft Unit 5 return to the amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD-25) during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Singaporeon Dec. 11, 2020. US Marine Corps Photo

“It’s obvious that the ALNAV (message) by the secretary 10 days ago was setting the stage for this,” he said.

Del Toro, on June 3, issued an all-hands message (ALNAV 036/22) titled “Leadership and Accountability” that included this statement: “When leaders’ actions or inactions result in the loss of life or capital resources or simply lower our standards, the senior leadership of the DON has a responsibility to determine the root cause and hold responsible persons appropriately accountable.”

He said he hasn’t been notified by the Marine Corps of the final decisions or dispositions of cases against the unit leaders, including former 1st Marine Division commander Maj. Gen. Robert F. Castellvi, who was removed as the Marine Corps inspector general, as well as BLT 1/4 commander Lt. Col. Michael Regner and Bravo Company commander Capt. George Hepler, the latter whose retention prospects were considered by separate boards of inquiry.

Several families have spoken out publicly about the AAVs’ poor conditions, the lack of waterborne and safety training and poor decision-making by unit leaders.

Even with limitations and problems in staffing and training due to COVID restrictions, Ostrovsky said, “they didn’t go the extra mile. They knew they had degraded equipment, but they didn’t do more. For all us families, we’ve always wondered why they didn’t do more.”

Knowing the AAV Platoon had received, and had to repair, so many AAVs that were in poor shape, the units still didn’t devote more time to safety and familiarization training. “Wouldn’t that have signaled to you that an egress situation would be more than likely?” he said. “They didn’t do enough.”

Hearing Begins for Battalion Commander’s Role in Fatal 2020 AAV Sinking

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – A board of officers convened this week to determine whether the officer who led the infantry battalion involved in the fatal 2020 sinking of an Amphibious Assault Vehicle should be discharged from the Marine Corps or allowed to continue to serve. Lt. Col. Michael Regner, a 19-year combat veteran, was removed […]

Marines with Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/4, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, operate an AAV-P7/A1 assault amphibious vehicle while embarking the amphibious landing dock USS Somerset (LPD-25) during training to increase Navy-Marine Corps interoperability in the eastern Pacific.

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – A board of officers convened this week to determine whether the officer who led the infantry battalion involved in the fatal 2020 sinking of an Amphibious Assault Vehicle should be discharged from the Marine Corps or allowed to continue to serve.

Lt. Col. Michael Regner, a 19-year combat veteran, was removed as the commander of Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, in October 2020, a few months after eight Marines and one sailor died off San Clemente Island, Calif.

They were among 16 inside the AAV returning to amphibious transport dock USS Somerset (LPD-25) on July 30, 2020, when water began seeping into the 26-ton vehicle and then sank. Eight Marines, including the three-man AAV crew, escaped before the vehicle sunk, but one infantryman later died at a local hospital.

Killed were Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, Calif.; Cpls. Wesley Rodd, 23, of Harris, Texas, and Cesar Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, Calif.; Lance Cpls. Marco Barranco, 21, of Montebello, Calif., Guillermo Perez, 19, of New Braunfels, Texas, and Chase Sweetwood, 19, of Portland, Ore.; and Pfcs. Bryan Baltierra, 19, of Corona, Calif., Evan Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wisc., and Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, of Bend, Ore.

Lt. Col. Michael Regner

Three colonels comprise the “board of inquiry” ordered by I Marine Expeditionary Force commander Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl. They are sorting through reams of documents and will hear testimony later this week to recommend whether Regner should stay in uniform or be discharged for substandard performance. The final actions rest with the deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs or the Navy secretary.

“Sixteen inside. Only seven made it out alive. These are the names of the nine who didn’t,” McDonald, who as the board recorder is leading the case for the government, said before stating the names of the deceased. The parents of three of the victims sat in the modest courtroom during Tuesday’s short proceedings before the board recessed to review extensive documents provided as exhibits from the government and Regner’s defense attorneys.

The government contends that Regner ignored several “red flags” as his battalion and its mechanized AAV platoon prepared to train with the Marine Expeditionary Unit and the at-sea integration training with the Navy.

Maj. Michael McDonald, the board’s recorder who is leading the government’s case, noted that a review of the I MEF command investigation characterized Regner’s performance as “a significant departure” of what’s expected of a battalion commander in three key areas: preparation, planning and execution.

The hearing “is not to punish. It is not to point fingers … and not to Monday-morning quarterback,” McDonald said in his opening statement, but “to decide whether Lt. Col. Regner has the potential for future service in the Marine Corps.”

Marine Corps AAV-P7/A1 assault amphibious vehicle driver with Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/4, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, drives an AAV-P7/A1 up the well deck ramp of the amphibious landing dock USS Somerset (LPD-25) during training to increase Navy-Marine Corps interoperability in the eastern Pacific on July 27, 2020. US Marine Corps Photo

“It is going to be a difficult decision for you,” he told the board. “The bottom line is Lt. Col. Regner’s substandard performance set the conditions for the sinking of the amtrac last summer.”

But a defense attorney argued that “there is no legal basis for separation in this case” because Regner hasn’t been cited by the Marine Corps for any misconduct.

Regner owned up to his responsibility during an earlier counseling session and “never shirked that responsibility” as the battalion commander, Maj. Cory Carver argued to the board. “He never dropped his pack. He’s been working hard. … He knows that he’s responsible for the deficiencies that took place,” he said.

Carver said Regner’s focus continued even after I MEF had offered the option of retirement rather than a board of inquiry. But retiring wasn’t an option, as Regner wasn’t eligible for the 20-year retirement.

Training Shortcuts Cited

USS Somerset (LPD-25) lowers its well deck ramp in preparation for a landing craft, air cushion to dock during Pacific Blitz 2019 on March 21, 2019. US Navy Photo

The Marine Corps’ investigations found that BLT 1/4 fell short in adhering to training standards and operating procedures in several areas that may have contributed to the sinking and the deaths. Among those cited is that some of the passengers in the amtracs on the mission that day lacked the required water safety training. Some hadn’t met the required water safety qualification, others hadn’t done any training at-sea in the amtrac and others just couldn’t swim well.

McDonald cited a number of failures on Regner’s part in the months prior to and in preparation and execution of the raid exercise. “The bottom line is Marines in BLT 1/4 were not properly swim qualified” and hadn’t received the underwater egress training that was required for such waterborne training, he said. Moreover, McDonald argued, the battalion went ahead with the raid mission without sufficient time training with the vehicles in the water. “You’ve got to start somewhere,” he said. “But you don’t go from crawl to run.”

McDonald took note of Regner’s failures to plan and ensure the proper safety boats were part of the mission, and he said the battalion’s planning was deficient, noting that some of the AAVs were returning to Somerset with passengers they picked up on San Clemente Island, including the Recon platoon, and often without life preservers or being accounted for on manifests.

The unit that day suffered from “get-there-itis,” he argued. “The temptation is to push, to get there … regardless of what normally would be safety considerations.”

But Carver said that Regner was aware of and tracked the water egress qualifications of BLT 1/4’s members.

But Regner was told by the Bravo Company commander that the unit was fully qualified, even though it later became known that some of the crew failed to meet the standard for water safety, the attorney told the board. “Is he legally responsible … for that failure?”

I MEF’s existing policy at the time, Carver said, provided alternatives for Marines and sailors to qualify with smaller underwater egress trainers if the amphibious egress trainer wasn’t available. In early and mid-2020, the amphibious egress trainer was down for maintenance, and demand was high for any other available trainers. But after the sinking, he noted, I MEF revised the policy to require the proper level of egress training.

Regner is likely to testify in his defense to the board.

Condition of AAVs

Marines with Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/4, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, operate AAV-P7/A1 assault amphibious vehicles into the well deck of the amphibious landing dock USS Somerset (LPD-25) on July 27, 2020. US Marines Photo

Regner’s battalion received 14 AAVs that were mostly obtained in degraded conditions from 3rd Amphibian Assault Battalion, which is also located at Camp Pendleton.

“We’re not pulling any punches here. There’s a lot of hands in the pot here,” McDonald said. Regner “inherited bad AAVs.” But the onus was on Regner to ensure that the AAV platoon had completed and passed a critical Marine Corps combat readiness evaluation, which wasn’t done. “That’s a red flag,” he argued.

But Carver told the board that Regner had actively tracked the progress of the maintenance work that eventually got the vehicles operational. The poor materiel condition of the vehicles wasn’t unusual, he noted, and “the Marine Corps [has known] of these problems for years.”

As for the mechanical issues with the mishap AAV, “other Marines are being held accountable … for actual misconduct,” noted Carver. “But that is not this case.”

That remark refers to Lt. Col. Keith Brenize, who was in command of 3rd AA Battalion when he provided the amtracs to Regner’s battalion in spring of 2020 ahead of their training with the 15th MEU. Heckl, in an endorsement to the Marine Corps’ command investigation completed in May, found that Brenize’s actions “had a direct bearing on the cause of this tragic mishap.”

Brenize, a combat veteran who enlisted in 1994, handed over command in June 2020 before heading to the Marine Corps War University. Last month he faced his own retention board at Quantico, Va. That board met Dec. 6 through 10 and was in recess “until early 2022,” a Marine Corps Training and Education Command spokesman told USNI News.

The sinking – one of the Marine Corps’ worst in recent years – prompted the Marine Corps to order changes to training and maintenance. The service, which plans to replace the amtracs with the Amphibious Combat Vehicle, temporarily banned most AAVs from conducting waterborne operations until its decision last month to permanently end any water operations.

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Dec. 27, 2021

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Dec. 27, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Total U.S. Navy Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Dec. 27, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Total U.S. Navy Battle Force:

296

Ships Underway

Deployed Ships Underway Non-deployed Ships Underway Total Ships Underway
39 1 40

In Yokosuka, Japan

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class Camille Islas, from Downey, California; Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Timothy Patrick Tomaneng, from Winchester, California; and Interior Communications Electrician Seaman Kimberly Zuluaga, from Miami, wrap gifts for an Angel Tree Gift Drive in the ship’s Internet cafe aboard aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) on Dec. 21, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is in port in Yokosuka, Japan.

In Sasebo, Japan

Cmdr. Bryan Gallant, the executive officer aboard the forward-deployed amphibious dock landing ship USS Rushmore (LSD-47), conducts a tour of the ship’s well deck for allies from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force on Dec. 8, 2021. US Navy Photo

The ships of the America Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) are in port in Sasebo, Japan.

In Guam

Operations Specialist 3rd Class Rauf Acheampong, right, a native of Nsuaem, Ghana, and Operations Specialist Seaman Ethan Garcia, a native of Los Angeles, stand starboard quarter lookout aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) as the ship pulls into Guam during a port visit on Dec. 23, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group spent Christmas in Guam. Vinson is scheduled to depart on Tuesday, according to local press.

Aircraft carrier

USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Carrier Air Wing 2

An F-35C Lightning II, assigned to the ‘Argonauts’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, launches off the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Dec. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked aboard Carl Vinson and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Argonauts” of VFA-147 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F-35Cs from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Bounty Hunters” of VFA-2 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Stingers” of VFA-113 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Golden Dragons” of VFA-192 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Gauntlets” of VAQ-136 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Black Eagles” of VAW-113 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Titans” of VRM-30 – CMV-22B – Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Black Knights” of HSC-4 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station North Island.
  • The “Blue Hawks” of HSM-78 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station North Island.

Cruiser

Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) transits alongside Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Dec. 14, 2021. US Navy Photo

  • USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 1

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG-106) transits the Philippine Sea as two MH-60S Knight Hawks, assigned to the ‘Black Knights’ of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 4, conduct a vertical replenishment-at-sea between Henry J. Kaiser-class dry cargo ship USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE-7) on Dec. 21, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 1 is based in San Diego and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Dewey (DDG-105), homeported in San Diego.
  • USS O’Kane (DDG-77), homeported in San Diego.
  • USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112), homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
  • USS Chafee (DDG-90), homeported in Pearl Harbor.
  • USS Stockdale (DDG-106), homeported in San Diego.

In the Gulf of Aden

Cmdr. John Sims, senior medical officer aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2), makes a holiday cookie with Emily Steinway, the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) fun boss aboard Essex, during an MWR event aboard Essex on Dec. 21, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit is in the Gulf of Aden. The ARG deployed Aug. 12.

The ARG is comprised of three ships: landing helicopter dock USS Essex (LHD-2), amphibious transport dock USS Portland (LPD-27) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52). Together the 11th MEU, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 1 and ships are designated as an ARG/MEU. In addition to the ships, the principal Navy elements of the ARG are a Naval Beach Group element, the Tactical Air Control Squadron element, a fleet surgical team and a helicopter sea combat squadron element.

U.S. Navy Lt. Paul Guzman a Catholic Chaplain deployed to Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti (CLDJ) performed a Catholic Christmas Eve Mass for sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) on Dec. 24, 2021. US Navy Photo

The 11th MEU consists of four major components: a command element, a ground combat element, an aviation combat element and a logistics combat element. The 11th MEU is comprised of Battalion Landing Team 1/1, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 165 (Reinforced), Marine Attack Squadron 214 and Combat Logistics Battalion 11.

In the Ionian Sea

Command Master Chief Keith Wilkerson, left, Capt. Gavin Duff, commanding officer, middle, Capt. Shane Marchesi, executive officer, cut a holiday themed cake with culinary specialists on the mess deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) on Dec. 25, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) and the Truman Carrier Strike Group CSG are in the Ionian Sea after a port call in Souda Bay, Greece. The CSG departed for its deployment on Dec. 1. Along with the U.S. ships, Royal Norwegian Navy frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310) joined the strike group under the Cooperative Deployment Program.

Aircraft carrier
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 1

Lt. Arny Warren, from Baltimore, directs a pilot of an F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to the ‘Blue Blasters’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34, before launching on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) on Dec. 24, 2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, is embarked aboard Harry S. Truman and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Red Rippers” of VFA-11 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Fs from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Fighting Checkmates” of VFA-211 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Blue Blasters” of VFA-34 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Sunliners” of VFA-81 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Rooks” of VAQ-137 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Seahawks” of VAW-126 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Dragon Slayers” of HSC-11 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Proud Warriors of HSM-72 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser

Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG-56) fires a MK 45 light weight gun system during a weapons shoot on Dec. 10, 2021. US Navy Photo

  • USS San Jacinto (CG-56), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.

Destroyer Squadron 28

Operations Specialist 2nd Class Omar Hernandez, from Houston, mans the rails as the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109) transits into Piraeus, Greece for a routine port visit on Dec. 24, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 28 is based in Norfolk and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Cole (DDG-67), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Bainbridge (DDG- 96), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Gravely (DDG-107), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109), homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
  • Royal Norwegian Navy frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310).

In addition to these major formations, not shown are others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units, and more serving throughout the globe.

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Dec. 20, 2021

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Dec. 20, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Total U.S. Navy Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Dec. 20, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Total U.S. Navy Battle Force:

295

Ships Underway

Deployed Ships Underway Non-deployed Ships Underway Total Ships Underway
55 3 58

In Yokosuka, Japan

Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 3rd Class Whitney Dorsett returns to formation during a frocking ceremony on the flight deck of the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) on Dec. 13, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is in port in Yokosuka, Japan.

In Sasebo, Japan

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Bennet Coen, from Honolulu, assigned to the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6), directs sailors during aircraft firefighting drills in the ship’s hangar bay on Dec. 7, 2021. US Navy Photo

The ships of the America Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) are in port in Sasebo, Japan.

In the Western Pacific

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Matthew Strickland, a native of Tallahassee, Fla., acts as a safety observer for an EA-18G Growler, assigned to the “Gauntlets” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136, as it is lifted aboard an elevator on Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Dec. 18, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is underway in the Western Pacific.

Aircraft carrier

Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) transits the Indian Ocean on Dec. 18, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Carrier Air Wing 2

Sailor supports flight operations on the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) as it transits the Indian Ocean during a bilateral training exercise with the Royal Australian Air Force on Dec. 17, 2021. Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group and elements of the Royal Australian Navy and Air Force are conducting a bilateral training exercise to test and refine warfighting capabilities in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked aboard Carl Vinson and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Argonauts” of VFA-147 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F-35Cs from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Bounty Hunters” of VFA-2 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Stingers” of VFA-113 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Golden Dragons” of VFA-192 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Gauntlets” of VAQ-136 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Black Eagles” of VAW-113 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Titans” of VRM-30 – CMV-22B – Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Black Knights” of HSC-4 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station North Island.
  • The “Blue Hawks” of HSM-78 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station North Island.

Cruiser

An MH-60S Knight Hawk, assigned to the ‘Black Knights’ of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 4 flies over Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) while transiting alongside Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Dec. 14, 2021. US Navy Photo

  • USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 1

Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Ancent Devera, a native of Honolulu, Hawaii conducts a dry rope exercise with Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG-106) while flying in an MH-60S Knight Hawk, assigned to ‘The Black Knights’ of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 4, Dec. 18, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 1 is based in San Diego and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Dewey (DDG-105), homeported in San Diego.
  • USS O’Kane (DDG-77), homeported in San Diego.
  • USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112), homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
  • USS Chafee (DDG-90), homeported in Pearl Harbor.
  • USS Stockdale (DDG-106), homeported in San Diego.

In the Gulf of Aden

Dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE-8), bottom right, leads a formation through the Strait of Hormuz with amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2), top middle, fast response cutter USCGC Robert Goldman (WPC-1142), middle right, and coastal patrol ship USS Whirlwind (PC-11) on Dec. 11, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit is in the Gulf of Aden. The ARG deployed Aug. 12.

The ARG is comprised of three ships: landing helicopter dock USS Essex (LHD-2), amphibious transport dock USS Portland (LPD-27) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52). Together the 11th MEU, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 1 and ships are designated as an ARG/MEU. In addition to the ships, the principal Navy elements of the ARG are a Naval Beach Group element, the Tactical Air Control Squadron element, a fleet surgical team and a helicopter sea combat squadron element.

The 11th MEU consists of four major components: a command element, a ground combat element, an aviation combat element and a logistics combat element. The 11th MEU is comprised of Battalion Landing Team 1/1, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 165 (Reinforced), Marine Attack Squadron 214 and Combat Logistics Battalion 11.

In the Mediterranean Sea

Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Sheldon Popo, from Brooklyn, directs aircraft on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) on Dec. 15, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Harry S. Truman and the Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG) are in the Mediterranean Sea. The CSG departed for its deployment on Dec. 1. Along with the U.S. ships, Royal Norwegian Navy frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310) joined the strike group under the Cooperative Deployment Program.

Aircraft carrier
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 1

An F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to the ‘Fighting Checkmates’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211, lands on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) on Dec. 13, 2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, is embarked aboard Harry S. Truman and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Red Rippers” of VFA-11 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Fs from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Fighting Checkmates” of VFA-211 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Blue Blasters” of VFA-34 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Sunliners” of VFA-81 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Rooks” of VAQ-137 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Seahawks” of VAW-126 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Dragon Slayers” of HSC-11 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Proud Warriors of HSM-72 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser

Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG-56) transits alongside the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) during a replenishment-at-sea, Dec. 9, 2021. US Navy Photo

  • USS San Jacinto (CG-56), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.

Destroyer Squadron 28

Arleigh-Burke Class destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109), front, and Royal Moroccan Navy’s Sigma-class frigate Allal Ben Abdallah (F 615) transits the Strait of Gibraltar in formation behind the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) on Dec. 14, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 28 is based in Norfolk and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Cole (DDG-67), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Bainbridge (DDG- 96), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Gravely (DDG-107), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109), homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
  • Royal Norwegian Navy frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310).

In addition to these major formations, not shown are others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units, and more serving throughout the globe.

BREAKING: Marines Keeping AAVs Out of the Water Permanently

The Marine Corps will keep its fleet of decades-old Amphibious Assault Vehicles out of the water except in emergencies, the service announced on Wednesday. The water ban on the AAVs makes permanent restrictions the Marines placed on the 1970s-era vintage amphibious armored personnel carriers following the AAV incident in 2020 that killed eight Marines and […]

Marines with Marine Rotational Force Europe 21.1 (MRF-E), Marine Forces Europe and Africa, conduct a live-fire range using Assault Amphibious Vehicles (AAV) in Blatindan, Norway, March 16, 2021. US Marine Corps Photo

The Marine Corps will keep its fleet of decades-old Amphibious Assault Vehicles out of the water except in emergencies, the service announced on Wednesday.

The water ban on the AAVs makes permanent restrictions the Marines placed on the 1970s-era vintage amphibious armored personnel carriers following the AAV incident in 2020 that killed eight Marines and a sailor in a training incident off the coast of California and led to several subsequent investigations.

“The Marine Corps stands by the efficacy of the recommendations that came from the multiple investigations into the AAV mishap from the summer of 2020, and with those recommendations implemented and sustained, the AAV is a safe and effective vehicle for amphibious operations,” reads a statement from the service.
“That said, given the current state of the amphibious vehicle program, the Commandant of the Marine Corps has decided the AAV will no longer serve as part of regularly scheduled deployments or train in the water during military exercises; AAVs will only return to operating in the water if needed for crisis response. This decision was made in the interest of the long-term health of the amphibious vehicle programs and future capabilities. The AAV will continue to operate on land; 76 percent of its tasks are land-based. In doing so, we reserve the capability to reverse this decision should the need arise.”

The Marines have used the AAVs since the 1970s and they’ve been employed widely across the globe. The service is on its second attempt to replace the amtracs with the Amphibious Combat Vehicle – after the cancelation of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle in 2010.

The ACVs are under their own restrictions from waterborne operations.

“The Marine Corps will continue deployments with myriad lethal capabilities which currently exist, and we remain committed to fielding the Amphibious Combat Vehicle,” reads the statement.
“ACVs were temporarily suspended from open ocean waterborne operations as we worked to solve an issue that was identified with the towing mechanism. We expect that issue to be resolved soon and for ACVs to return to the water early in the New Year.”

The Marine Corps in early September announced the pause to ACV water operations due to the problem with the towing mechanism.

The ACV program entered full-rate production late last year, after completing the initial operational test and evaluation phase (IOT&E), which allows Marines to experiment with the platform and provide feedback on what could be improved.

For example, one issue Marines experienced during testing was punctures to the vehicles tires, but they could not address the problem quickly because the Marines didn’t have access to a jack. The Pentagon’s top weapons tester suggested the Marine Corps give all sections a kit for spare tires to address this problem.

The Marine Corps is slated to buy four ACV variants – a personnel carrier, a recovery variant, a command and control variant and a vehicle with 30-mm cannon variant.

BAE Systems, which is building the ACV for the service, started with the personnel variant, which was the type of ACV the Marine Corps had been testing during IOT&E. in February, BAE announced it had provided the Marine Corps with the first command and control ACV.

The following is the complete Dec. 15, 2021 statement from the Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps stands by the efficacy of the recommendations that came from the multiple investigations into the AAV mishap from the summer of 2020, and with those recommendations implemented and sustained, the AAV is a safe and effective vehicle for amphibious operations. That said, given the current state of the amphibious vehicle program (the program that manages both AAVs and ACVs), the Commandant of the Marine Corps has decided the AAV will no longer serve as part of regularly scheduled deployments or train in the water during military exercises; AAVs will only return to operating in the water if needed for crisis response. This decision was made in the interest of the long-term health of the amphibious vehicle programs and future capabilities. The AAV will continue to operate on land; 76% of its tasks are land-based. In doing so, we reserve the capability to reverse this decision should the need arise.

The Marine Corps will continue deployments with myriad lethal capabilities which currently exist, and we remain committed to fielding the Amphibious Combat Vehicle.

ACVs were temporarily suspended from open ocean waterborne operations as we worked to solve an issue that was identified with the towing mechanism. We expect that issue to be resolved soon and for ACVs to return to the water early in the New Year.

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Dec. 13, 2021

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Dec. 13, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Total U.S. Navy Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Dec. 13, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Total U.S. Navy Battle Force:

295

Ships Underway

Deployed Ships Underway Non-deployed Ships Underway Total Ships Underway
51 20 71

In Yokosuka, Japan

Cmdr. Cody Lutke from Shreveport, Louisiana gives a tour of the pilot house to students from the National Defense Academy of Japan aboard the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) on Dec. 4, 2021 in Yokosuka, Japan. U.S. Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is in port in Yokosuka, Japan.

In Sasebo, Japan

Lt. Cmdr. Tyler Maness, assigned to Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11, conducts a tour of the flight deck aboard the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) for allies from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force on Dec. 8, 2021 in Sasebo, Japan. U.S. Navy Photo

The ships of the America Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) are in port in Sasebo, Japan.

In the Indian Ocean

Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) conducts a replenishment-at-sea with Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204), Dec. 7, 2021 in the Philippine Sea. U.S. Navy Photo

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is underway in the Indian Ocean, off the northwest coast of Australia.

Aircraft carrier
USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Carrier Air Wing 2

Double rainbows form on the horizon while an EA-18G Growler, assigned to the “Gauntlets” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136, is stowed on the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Dec. 8, 2021 in the Philippine Sea. U.S. Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked aboard Carl Vinson and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Argonauts” of VFA-147 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F-35Cs from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Bounty Hunters” of VFA-2 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Stingers” of VFA-113 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Golden Dragons” of VFA-192 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Gauntlets” of VAQ-136 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Black Eagles” of VAW-113 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Titans” of VRM-30 – CMV-22B – Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Black Knights” of HSC-4 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station North Island.
  • The “Blue Hawks” of HSM-78 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station North Island.

Cruiser

Seaman Sergio Vielmas, a native of Los Angeles, Calif., stands Landing Signalman during vertical replenishment drills for an MH-60R Sea Hawk assigned to the “Blue Hawks” of Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 78 aboard Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), Nov. 20, 2021 in the Philippine Sea. U.S. Navy Photo

USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 1

Sailors aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) conduct line handling with Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204) during a replenishment-at-sea in South China Sea, Nov. 30, 2021. U.S. Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 1 is based in San Diego and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Dewey (DDG-105), homeported in San Diego.
  • USS O’Kane (DDG-77), homeported in San Diego.
  • USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112), homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
  • USS Chafee (DDG-90), homeported in Pearl Harbor.
  • USS Stockdale (DDG-106), homeported in San Diego.

In the Gulf of Oman

Amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) conducts a strait transit through the Strait of Hormuz with fast response cutter USCGC Robert Goldman (WPC 1142), left, dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8), middle, and coastal patrol ship USS Whirlwind (PC 11), Dec. 11. U.S. Navy Photo

The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit just transited the Strait of Hormuz and is now in the Gulf of Oman. The ARG deployed Aug. 12.

The ARG is comprised of three ships: landing helicopter dock USS Essex (LHD-2), amphibious transport dock USS Portland (LPD-27) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52). Together the 11th MEU, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 1 and ships are designated as an ARG/MEU. In addition to the ships, the principal Navy elements of the ARG are a Naval Beach Group element, the Tactical Air Control Squadron element, a fleet surgical team and a helicopter sea combat squadron element.

The 11th MEU consists of four major components: a command element, a ground combat element, an aviation combat element and a logistics combat element. The 11th MEU is comprised of Battalion Landing Team 1/1, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 165 (Reinforced), Marine Attack Squadron 214 and Combat Logistics Battalion 11.

In the United Kingdom

HMS Queen Elizabeth returns from her seven month global mission on Dec. 9, 2021. UK Royal Navy Photo

HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) and escorts of the United Kingdom Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG 21) returned to their home ports in HMNB Devonport and HMNB Portsmouth on Dec. 9, marking the end of the carrier’s seven-month maiden deployment.

CSG 21 sailed 49,000 nautical miles to the Indo-Pacific and back. CSG 21 ships arriving home were aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, destroyers HMS Diamond (D34) and HMS Defender (D36), frigates HMS Richmond (F239) and HMS Kent (F78) and replenishment ship RFA Fort Victoria (A387).

The remaining ships of the CSG 21 had returned home earlier. American destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) detached from the group in late October and arrived home in Mayport, Fla., on Nov. 24. Meanwhile, Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F805) detached from the group on Dec. 2 and arrived home at Nieuwe Haven Naval Base, Den Helder on Dec. 5. U.K. replenishment ship RFA Tidespring (A136), which was replaced as the CSG’s tanker by RFA Tidesurge (A138) on Nov. 20, returned home to Portland Port, Devon on Dec. 2. The U.K rotated its Astute-class submarines for the deployment, with one submarine accompanying the group at various periods.

The U.K. air elements of CSG 21 flew home Dec. 8 and 9, with the Merlin helicopters of 820 Naval Air Squadron and 845 NAS returning to Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose and RNAS Yeovilton, respectively, on Dec. 9. The Wildcat helicopters of 815 NAS returned to RNAS Yeovilton on Dec. 8, while “The Dambusters” of Royal Air Force 617 Squadron arrived home at RAF Marham on Dec. 9.

The “Wake Island Avengers” of U.S. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 arrived home at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma on Dec. 8 after departing from CSG 21 last month. The squadron first landed aboard Queen Elizabeth in May 2021 for an integrated deployment with the U.K.’s 617 Squadron. A U.S. Marine Corps release stated that during the Royal Navy carrier’s initial operating deployment, VMFA-211 and the 617 squadron completed more than 1,278 sorties, flew more than 2200 hours, and conducted 44 combat missions in support of the counter-ISIS mission — Operation Inherent Resolve.

The ten F-35Bs of the squadron flew to Naval Station Rota on Nov. 24, with the remainder of the squadron disembarking from Queen Elizabeth on Dec. 2, when the carrier made a port call in Rota. On Dec. 5, the main body of personnel and equipment flew from Naval Station Rota to MCAS Yuma. The aircraft flew into MCAS Cherry Point, N.C., and subsequently flew to MCAS Yuma.

In the Eastern Pacific

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) Airman Matthew Kjoller, left, and Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) Airman Jarrett Tipton fake out a fuel hose on the flight deck aboard amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), Dec. 9. Makin Island is underway conducting routine operations in U.S. 3rd Fleet. U.S. Navy Photo

The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) is underway in the U.S. 3rd Fleet area of responsibility. USS Makin Island (LHD-8), USS San Diego (LPD-22) and USS Somerset (LPD-25) – along with the 15th MEU – returned from their last deployment in May 2021.

In the Western Atlantic

Sailors attach a fuel hose to a JP-5 fuel pump aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) on Dec. 3, 2021. Truman is operating as part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group in the Atlantic Ocean in support of naval operations to maintain maritime stability and security in order to ensure access, deter aggression and defend U.S., allied and partner interests. U.S. Navy Photo

The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group departed from Norfolk, Va., on Dec. 1 for a scheduled deployment. Along with the U.S. ships; Royal Norwegian Navy Frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310) joined the strike group under the Cooperative Deployment Program, which, according to the Navy, emphasizes the strengthening of defense partnerships and capabilities between the U.S. and bilateral or multilateral partners.

Aircraft carrier
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 1

An F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to the “Sunliners” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81, lands on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in the Atlantic Ocean on Dec. 2, 2021. U.S. Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, is embarked aboard Harry S. Truman and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Red Rippers” of VFA-11 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Fs from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Fighting Checkmates” of VFA-211 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Blue Blasters” of VFA-34 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Sunliners” of VFA-81 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Rooks” of VAQ-137 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Seahawks” of VAW-126 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Dragon Slayers” of HSC-11 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Proud Warriors of HSM-72 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser
USS San Jacinto (CG-56), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.

Destroyer Squadron 28

Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Gravely (DDG 107) man the rails during a Sea-and-Anchor ceremony on Dec. 1, 2021. Gravely is operating in the Atlantic Ocean in support of naval operations to maintain maritime stability and security in order to ensure access, deter aggression and defend U.S., allied and partner interests. U.S. Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 28 is based in Norfolk and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Cole (DDG-67), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Bainbridge (DDG- 96), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Gravely (DDG-107), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109), homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
  • Royal Norwegian Navy Frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310).

U.S. Navy Aviation Boatswains Mates secure an MV-22 Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotar Squadron 263, during flight operations aboard amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), Dec. 6, 2021. U.S. Navy Photo

The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) is underway in the Virginia Capes Operating Area. Also underway in the Virginia Capes are USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) and USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7).

In addition to these major formations, not shown are others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units, and more serving throughout the globe.

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Feb. 1, 2021

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Feb. 1, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Total U.S. Navy Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Feb. 1, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Total U.S. Navy Battle Force:

297

Ships Underway

Deployed Ships Underway Non-deployed Ships Underway Total Ships Underway
49 39 88

Ships Deployed by Fleet

Fleet Forces 3rd Fleet 4th Fleet 5th Fleet 6th Fleet 7th Fleet Total
0 0 2 19 13 61 95

In Japan

Chief Culinary Specialist Anthony Scott walks through the ceremonial quarterdeck of the forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) after being pinned to chief petty officer. US Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is in port in Yokosuka, Japan.

Reagan, which is the service’s forward-deployed carrier, pulled into its homeport of Yokosuka on Nov. 14. Japan-based U.S. carriers typically make two shorter patrols every year, with a winter maintenance period in Yokosuka.

In the Philippine Sea

An F-35B Lightning II assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) flies over the flight deck of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) Jan. 30, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS America (LHA-6) is underway. America has recently been operating off the coast of Okinawa – the headquarters of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) – along with Sasebo, Japan-based amphibious warships USS New Orleans (LPD-18) and USS Ashland (LSD-48).

The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is operating in the Philippine Sea, after conducting operations in the South China Sea last week.

Carrier Strike Group 9

Sailors stand in formation on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) during a chief petty officer pinning ceremony on Jan. 29, 2021. US Navy Photo

The San Diego-based CSG 9 commands the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group and is embarked on the carrier.

Aircraft carrier
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Carrier Air Wing 11

An F/A-18E Super Hornet, assigned to the ‘Blue Diamonds’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146, lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) on Jan. 28, 2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked aboard Theodore Roosevelt and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Tomcatters” of VFA-31 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) – from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Golden Warriors” of VFA-87 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Blue Diamonds” of VFA-146 from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Black Knights” of VFA-154 from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Gray Wolves” of VAQ-142 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Liberty Bells” of VAW-115 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – Detachment – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Eight Ballers” of HSC-8 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Wolf Pack” of HSM-75 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.

Cruiser

  • USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 23

USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194), front, resupplies the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG-59) and the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) during a replenishment-at-sea on Jan. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 23 is based in San Diego and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Russell (DDG-59), homeported in San Diego, Calif.
  • USS John Finn (DDG-113), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

In the Indian Ocean

Ens. Admiral Brower, from Richmond, Va., monitors the distance between the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG-59) during a refueling-at-sea on Jan. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and the Nimitz CSG have departed the Gulf of Oman and the North Arabian Sea. The CSG is now transiting through the Indian Ocean near India. This appears to be the beginning of the Nimitz CSG’s return transit to homeports on the West Coast.

The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group departed San Diego in May for a deployment to the Middle East that began in June. The strike group left the Middle East in November for a quick exercise with the Indian Navy and then returned back to U.S. 5th Fleet.

The strike group’s deployment was extended in the Middle East in the wake of threats from officials in the Iranian government on the one-year anniversary of the U.S. killing of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani. If the Nimitz CSG transits directly to the West Coast, that would put them back in homeport at the end of February.

Carrier Strike Group 11
San Diego-based CSG 11 commands the Nimitz CSG and is embarked on the carrier.

Aircraft carrier
USS Nimitz (CVN-68), homeported in Bremerton, Wash.

Carrier Air Wing 17

An E/A-18G Growler from the ‘Cougars” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 139 launches off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) during flight operations in the north Arabian Sea on Jan. 27, 2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing 17, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked on Nimitz and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Redcocks” of VFA 22 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) F/A-18F Super Hornet – from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Kestrels” of VFA137 F/A-18 E from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Mighty Shrikes” of VFA 94 F/A-18F from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Death Rattlers” of VMFA-323 F/A-18C from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar San Diego, Calif.
  • The “Cougars” of VAQ-139 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) EA-18G Growlers – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Sun Kings” of VAW-116 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) E2C Hawkeye – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – Detachment – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) C-2 – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Screamin’ Indians” of HSC-6 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) MH-60S– from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Battlecats” of HSM-73 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) MH-60R – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.

Cruiser

USS Princeton (CG-59), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 9

Sailors prepare for a night live-fire exercise on the flight deck of the guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG-104) on Jan. 27, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 9 is based at Naval Station Everett, Wash. The DESRON commodore and staff are embarked on Nimitz.

  • USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53), homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
  • USS Sterett (DDG-104), homeported in San Diego, Calif.
  • USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114), homeported in Everett, Wash.

The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the 15th MEU continues to operate off Somalia albeit closer to the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden. The Makin Island ARG and 15th MEU recently provided operational and air support to Joint Task Force – Quartz and Operation Octave Quartz. Octave Quartz is the U.S. mission to reposition 700 troops from Somalia to other parts of the region. The repositioning is now complete.

The ARG includes amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) and amphibious transport docks USS Somerset (LPD-25) and USS San Diego (LPD-22). The 15th MEU consists of the Command Element; the Aviation Combat Element comprised of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164 (Reinforced); the Ground Combat Element comprised of Battalion Landing Team 1/4; and the Logistics Combat Element comprised of Combat Logistics Battalion 15. Other units include Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 49, Tactical Air Control Squadron 11, Beach Master Unit 1, and Fleet Surgical Team 1 from San Diego and Assault Craft Unit 5 from Camp Pendleton, Calif.

In the Eastern Pacific

Capt. Scott Miller uses the shipboard general announcing system to address the crew of Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) after assuming the duties and responsibilities as the ship’s commanding officer on Jan. 24, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Carl Vinson CSG and Carrier Air Wing 2 are underway in the Southern California Operating Areas. Later this year, the strike group will deploy for the first time with the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter the CMV-22B Osprey aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70).

In the Western Atlantic

Operations Specialist 2nd Class Alyssa Chavez, from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, stands watch in the tactical operations plot aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69). Jan. 28, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Dwight D. Eisenhower CSG remains underway. The carrier and its escorts are expected to complete a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) off the East Coast ahead of a second deployment – likely to the Middle East to relieve the Nimitz CSG.

Carrier Strike Group 2
Norfolk-based CSG 2 commands the Dwight D. Eisenhower CSG and is embarked on the carrier.

Aircraft carrier
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 3

Sailors repel down a rope from a a MH-60 Sea Hawk assigned to the ‘Dusty Dogs’ of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7 onto the flight deck of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG-72) on Jan. 27, 2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing 3, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., is embarked aboard Dwight D. Eisenhower and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Fighting Swordsmen” of VFA-32 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) – from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Gunslingers” of VFA-105 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Wildcats” of VFA-131 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Rampagers” of VFA-83 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Zappers” of VAQ-130 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Screwtops” of VAW-123 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Dusty Dogs” of HSC-7 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Swamp Foxes” of HSM-74 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser

USS Vella Gulf (CG-72), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
USS Monterey (CG-61), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Destroyer Squadron 22

USS Laboon (DDG-58), left, and the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) transit the Atlantic Ocean on Jan. 25, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 22 is based at Norfolk, and its leaders are embarked on Eisenhower.

  • USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116), homeported in Mayport, Fla.
  • USS Laboon (DDG-58), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
  • USS Mitscher (DDG-103), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
  • USS Mahan (DDG-72), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Cory Woycitzky, from Tawas, Michigan, assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN-78) security department, stands watch on Ford’s flight deck as the ship transits through a snowstorm during a sea and anchor detail on Jan. 28, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) got underway on Jan. 28 for an independent steaming event (ISE) as part of its 18 months of post-delivery trials. “During ISE 15, Ford will conduct various drills and system tests as part of her post-delivery test and trials (PDT&T) and will continue carrier qualifications (CQ) for Naval Air Force Atlantic fleet replacement pilots and student naval aviators assigned to Chief of Naval Air Training,” according to the Navy.
Ford has recorded nearly 6,400 aircraft launches and recoveries with the state-of-the-art Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System and Advanced Arresting Gear, including more than 5,600 launches and recoveries since January 2020 across a total of eight ISEs.”

Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Riva Redding, from Norfolk, Virginia, assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN-78) deck department, pulls a messenger line through a chock on the ship’s fantail during a sea and anchor detail on Jan. 28, 2021. US Navy Photo

In addition to these major formations, not shown are thousands of others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units, and more serving throughout the globe.

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Jan. 25, 2021

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Jan. 25, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Total U.S. Navy Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Jan. 25, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Total U.S. Navy Battle Force:

297

Ships Underway

Deployed Ships Underway Non-deployed Ships Underway Total Ships Underway
58 33 91

Ships Deployed by Fleet

Fleet Forces 3rd Fleet 4th Fleet 5th Fleet 6th Fleet 7th Fleet Total
0 3 2 22 15 55 97

In Japan

Aviation Support Equipmentman 2nd Class Rawley Mendiola, from Vale, Or., assigned to Commander, Fleet Air Western Pacific Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Detachment Kadena, disassembles an aircraft utility crane disk brake assembly at AIMD Kadena Jan. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is in port in Yokosuka, Japan.

Reagan, which is the service’s forward-deployed carrier, pulled into its homeport of Yokosuka on Nov. 14. Japan-based U.S. carriers typically make two shorter patrols every year, with a winter maintenance period in Yokosuka.

In the Philippine Sea

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Cosme Zamora, from Compton, Calif., assigned to the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6), signals an F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) on the ship’s flight deck on Jan. 21, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS America (LHA-6) is underway. America has recently been operating off the coast of Okinawa – headquarters of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) – along with Sasebo, Japan-based amphibious warships USS New Orleans (LPD-18) and USS Ashland (LSD-48).

In the South China Sea

Seaman Aaron Martinez, from Austin, Texas, handles line aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) during a replenishment-at-sea with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Ericsson (T-AO 194) Jan. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is operating in the South China Sea and the Philippine Sea, after being deployed to the region for the second time in a year. According to a U.S Indo-Pacific Command news release on Jan. 23, “the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG) entered the South China Sea January 23 to conduct routine operations.”

“While in the South China Sea, the strike group is conducting maritime security operations, which include flight operations with fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, maritime strike exercises, and coordinated tactical training between surface and air units,” reads a statement from U.S. Pacific Fleet. Jan. 23 was the same day Taiwan defense officials reported a large incursion of Chinese bombers and fighter jets into its air defense identification zone in the vicinity of the Pratas Islands.

Carrier Strike Group 9

Oiler USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194) resupplies the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) during a replenishment-at-sea on Jan. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

The San Diego-based CSG 9 commands the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group and is embarked on the carrier.

Aircraft carrier
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Carrier Air Wing 11

An F/A-18E Super Hornet, assigned to the ‘Blue Diamonds’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146, lands on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) on Jan. 21, 2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked aboard Theodore Roosevelt and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Tomcatters” of VFA-31 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) – from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Golden Warriors” of VFA-87 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Blue Diamonds” of VFA-146 from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Black Knights” of VFA-154 from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Gray Wolves” of VAQ-142 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Liberty Bells” of VAW-115 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – Detachment – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Eight Ballers” of HSC-8 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Wolf Pack” of HSM-75 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.

Cruiser

  • USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 23

USS John Finn (DDG-113) transits the Pacific Ocean on Jan. 21, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 23 is based in San Diego and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Russell (DDG-59), homeported in San Diego, Calif.
  • USS John Finn (DDG-113), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

In the Gulf of Oman

USS Princeton (CG-59) steams alongside the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) during a refueling-at-sea on Jan. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and the Nimitz CSG are operating in the Gulf of Oman.

Carrier Strike Group 11
San Diego-based CSG 11 commands the Nimitz CSG and is embarked on the carrier.

Aircraft carrier
USS Nimitz (CVN-68), homeported in Bremerton, Wash.

Carrier Air Wing 17

An F/A-18F Super Hornet, from the ‘Mighty Shrikes’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 94, launches off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on Jan. 19, 2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing 17, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked on Nimitz and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Redcocks” of VFA 22 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) F/A-18F Super Hornet – from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Kestrels” of VFA137 F/A-18 E from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Mighty Shrikes” of VFA 94 F/A-18F from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Death Rattlers” of VMFA-323 F/A-18C from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar San Diego, Calif.
  • The “Cougars” of VAQ-139 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) EA-18G Growlers – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Sun Kings” of VAW-116 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) E2C Hawkeye – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – Detachment – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) C-2 – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Screamin’ Indians” of HSC-6 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) MH-60S– from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Battlecats” of HSM-73 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) MH-60R – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.

Cruiser

A Super Puma (EC-225) helicopter conducts a replenishment-at-sea with the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG-59) on Jan. 13, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Princeton (CG-59), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 9

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG-104) transits alongside the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on Jan. 19, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 9 is based at Naval Station Everett, Wash. The DESRON commodore and staff are embarked on Nimitz.

  • USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53), homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
  • USS Sterett (DDG-104), homeported in San Diego, Calif.
  • USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114), homeported in Everett, Wash.

In the Indian Ocean

Sailors participate in a damage control drill aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) on Jan. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the 15th MEU continues to operate off Somalia. The Makin Island ARG and 15th MEU recently provided operational and air support to Joint Task Force – Quartz and Operation Octave Quartz. Octave Quartz is the U.S. mission to reposition 700 troops from Somalia to other parts of the region. The repositioning is now complete.

USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB-4) also participated in the operation. Commissioned on March 7, Williams is a Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary sea base and is based in Souda Bay, Greece.

The ARG includes amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) and amphibious transport docks USS Somerset (LPD-25) and USS San Diego (LPD-22). The 15th MEU consists of the Command Element; the Aviation Combat Element comprised of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164 (Reinforced); the Ground Combat Element comprised of Battalion Landing Team 1/4; and the Logistics Combat Element comprised of Combat Logistics Battalion 15. Other units include Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 49, Tactical Air Control Squadron 11, Beach Master Unit 1, and Fleet Surgical Team 1 from San Diego and Assault Craft Unit 5 from Camp Pendleton, Calif.

In the Eastern Pacific

Chief Warrant Officer Jorge Agostini, from Ponce, Puerto Rico, directs an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the ‘Flying Eagles’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 122 on the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) on Jan. 19, 2021 US Navy Photo

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group (CSG) and Carrier Air Wing 2 are underway in the Southern California Operating Areas. Later this year, the strike group will deploy for the first time with the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter the CMV-22B Osprey aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70).

In the Western Atlantic

Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Josean Alviraamaro, from Jersey City, New Jersey, cleans an F/A-18F Super Hornet, attached to the ‘Fighting Swordsmen’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 32, aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) on Jan. 21, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Dwight D. Eisenhower CSG is underway. The carrier and its escorts are expected to complete a composite unit training exercise (COMPTUEX) off the East Coast ahead of a second deployment – likely to the Middle East to relieve the Nimitz carrier strike group, USNI News reported.

Carrier Strike Group 2
Norfolk-based CSG 2 commands the Dwight D. Eisenhower CSG and is embarked on the carrier.

Aircraft carrier
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 3

An MH-60R Sea Hawk, attached to the ‘Swamp Foxes’ of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74, prepares to land on the flight deck aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) on Jan. 20 ,2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing 3, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., is embarked aboard Dwight D. Eisenhower and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Fighting Swordsmen” of VFA-32 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) – from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Gunslingers” of VFA-105 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Wildcats” of VFA-131 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Rampagers” of VFA-83 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Zappers” of VAQ-130 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Screwtops” of VAW-123 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Dusty Dogs” of HSC-7 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Swamp Foxes” of HSM-74 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser

Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Andrew Christiansen from Elko, Minnesota, brazes a pipe on the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG-61) on Jan. 20, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Vella Gulf (CG-72), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
USS Monterey (CG-61), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Destroyer Squadron 22

Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Sujan Thapamagar, stands look out watch to search for foreign vessels on the bridge of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG-72) on Jan. 22, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 22 is based at Norfolk, and its leaders are embarked on Eisenhower.

  • USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116), homeported in Mayport, Fla.
  • USS Laboon (DDG-58), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
  • USS Mitscher (DDG-103), homeported in Norfolk, Va.
  • USS Mahan (DDG-72), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

In addition to these major formations, not shown are thousands of others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units, and more serving throughout the globe.

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Dec. 28, 2020

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Dec. 28, 2020, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Total U.S. Navy Battle […]

USNI News Image

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Dec. 28, 2020, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Total U.S. Navy Battle Force:

297

Ships Underway

Deployed Ships Underway Non-deployed Ships Underway Total Ships Underway
49 1 50

Ships Deployed by Fleet

Fleet Forces 3rd Fleet 4th Fleet 5th Fleet 6th Fleet 7th Fleet Total
0 6 4 21 16 51 98

In Japan

CMDCM(SW/AW) Randy Bell, USS America (LHA-6) command master chief, right, presents a wreath to Master Chief Petty Officer Tatayuki Ono, CMC of JS Ise (DDH 182), during a kadomatsu exchange between the ships on Dec. 23, 2020. Kadomatsu, or ‘gate pines,’ are a Japanese New Year tradition for good luck. US Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is in port in Yokosuka, Japan.

Reagan, which is the service’s forward-deployed carrier, pulled into its homeport of Yokosuka, Japan, on Nov. 14. Japan-based U.S. carriers typically make two shorter patrols every year, with a maintenance period in Yokosuka.

USS America (LHA-6) is in port in Sasebo, Japan.

In the Indian Ocean

Capt. Max Clark, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68), patches in a 1MC address from Vice President Mike Pence to sailors and Marines aboard Nimitz. US Navy Photo

USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG) are operating off the Horn of Africa, USNI News reported last week.

The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) embarked is now in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. The ARG includes amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) and amphibious transport docks USS Somerset (LPD-25) and USS San Diego (LPD-22).

Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, consisting of USS Makin Island (LHD-8), USS Somerset (LPD-25), USS San Diego (LPD-22), and embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit; and USS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams (ESB-4) conduct maritime operations off the coast of Somalia under Joint Task Force – Quartz in support of Operation Octave Quartz (OOQ) Dec. 22, 2020. US Navy Photo

The 15th MEU consists of the Command Element; the Aviation Combat Element comprised of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 164 (Reinforced); the Ground Combat Element comprised of Battalion Landing Team 1/4; and the Logistics Combat Element comprised of Combat Logistics Battalion 15. Other units include Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 23, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 49, Tactical Air Control Squadron 11, Beach Master Unit 1, and Fleet Surgical Team 1 from San Diego and Assault Craft Unit 5 from Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Arriving Dec. 21, both the Nimitz CSG and the Makin Island ARG are in place off the coast of Somalia providing operational and close air support to Joint Task Force – Quartz and Operation Octave Quartz. Octave Quartz is the U.S. mission to reposition 700 troops from Somalia to other parts of the region.

USS Hershel “Woody” Williams (ESB-4) is participating in the operation. Commissioned on March 7, Williams is a Lewis B. Puller-class expeditionary mobile base and is based in Souda Bay in Crete.

Carrier Strike Group 11

Electronics Technician Seaman Chris Harrison (left), from Overton, Texas, and Electronics Technician Christopher Burton (right), from Aynor, S.C., troubleshoot a satellite dish aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on Dec. 15, 2020. US Navy Photo

San Diego-based CSG 11 commands the Nimitz CSG and is embarked on the carrier.

Aircraft carrier
USS Nimitz (CVN-68), homeported in Bremerton, Wash.

Carrier Air Wing 17

An F/A-18E Super Hornet, from the ‘Kestrels’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137, launches off of the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) to provide close-air support to Operation Octave Quartz on Dec. 28, 2020. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing 17, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked on Nimitz and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Redcocks” of VFA 22 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) F/A-18F Super Hornet – from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Kestrels” of VFA137 F/A-18 E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Mighty Shrikes” of VFA 94 F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Death Rattlers” of VMFA-323 F/A-18C – from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar San Diego, Calif.
  • The “Cougars” of VAQ-139 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) EA-18G Growlers – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island – Wash.
  • The “Sun Kings” of VAW-116 –Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) E2C Hawkeye – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – Detachment – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) C-2 – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Screamin’ Indians” of HSC-6 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) MH-60S– from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Battlecats” of HSM-73 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) MH-60R – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.

Cruiser

Aviation Maintenance Administrationman Robert Mudolo, from Coram, N.Y., assigned to the ‘Battlecats’ of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 73, prepares to give the pilots of an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter start up instructions during night flight operations on the flight deck of the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG-59) in the North Arabian Sea on Dec. 5. US Navy Photo

USS Princeton (CG-59), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 9

Destroyer Squadron 9 is based at Naval Station Everett, Wash. The DESRON commodore and staff are embarked on Nimitz.

  • USS John Paul Jones (DDG-53), homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
  • USS Sterett (DDG-104), homeported in San Diego, Calif.
  • USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114), homeported in Everett, Wash.

In the Persian Gulf

On Dec. 21, U.S. 5th Fleet announced that nuclear guided-missile submarine USS Georgia (SSBN-729) entered the Persian Gulf.

“SSGNs are one of the most versatile platforms in the fleet, equipped with superior communications capabilities and the ability to carry up to 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles. The platform can also be configured to host up to 66 Special Operations Forces,” reads the statement from U.S. 5th Fleet.

Announcing an SSGN operating in the Persian Gulf is a rare move for the service and this public disclosure is intended as a message both to Iran and U.S. regional allies, USNI News understands.

In the Eastern Pacific

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and the Arleigh-burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG-59) transit the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 18, 2020. US Navy Photo

The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group completed its sustainment exercise (SUSTEX) and began a scheduled deployment Dec. 23. The strike group is headed west.

Carrier Strike Group 9
The San Diego-based CSG 9 commands the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group and is embarked on the carrier.

Aircraft carrier
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Carrier Air Wing 11

Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Arattakhan Khammany, from Abbeville, La., conducts maintenance on an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the ‘The Wolf Pack’ of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 75 in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) on Dec. 18, 2020. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked aboard Theodore Roosevelt and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Tomcatters” of VFA-31 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) – from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Golden Warriors” of VFA-87 from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Blue Diamonds” of VFA-146 from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Black Knights” of VFA-154 from Naval Air Station Lemoore – Calif.
  • The “Gray Wolves” of VAQ-142 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island – Wash.
  • The “Liberty Bells” of VAW-115 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – Detachment – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Eight Ballers” of HSC-8 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Wolf Pack” of HSM-75 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.

Cruiser

USS Bunker Hill (CG-52) anchors in the Pacific Ocean on Dec. 20, 2020. US Navy Photo

  • USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 23

Fire Controlman 2nd Class Andrew Hood, from Knoxville, Tenn., inspects the Phalanx close-in weapons system (CIWS) aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG-59) Dec. 21, 2020. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 23 is based in San Diego and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Russell (DDG-59), homeported in San Diego, Calif.
  • USS John Finn (DDG-113), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

In addition to these major formations, not shown are thousands of others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units, and more serving throughout the globe.

U.S. Aircraft Carrier, 2,500 Marines Off the Coast of Somalia as Pentagon Repositions Forces in Africa

The U.S. has moved an aircraft carrier and an Amphibious Ready Group embarked with Marines off the coast of Somalia as U.S. Africa Command has begun repositioning troops from Somalia, USNI News has learned. As of Monday, USS Nimitz (CVN-68), its escorts and the three-ship Makin Island ARG with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit have […]

A C-2A Greyhound, from the ‘Providers’ of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30, launches off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on Dec. 9, 2020. US Navy Photo

The U.S. has moved an aircraft carrier and an Amphibious Ready Group embarked with Marines off the coast of Somalia as U.S. Africa Command has begun repositioning troops from Somalia, USNI News has learned.

As of Monday, USS Nimitz (CVN-68), its escorts and the three-ship Makin Island ARG with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit have been operating just to the east of the Horn of Africa, defense officials confirmed to USNI News. USS Makin Island (LHD-8) and amphibious transport docks USS Somerset (LPD-25) and USS San Diego (LPD-22) make up the ARG while the approximately 2,500 Marines in the MEU are embarked aboard the three ships. Additionally, Makin Island has a squadron of Marine F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters aboard. The trio left the South China Sea via the Strait of Malacca on Dec. 12 for the Indian Ocean, USNI News reported last week.

Nimitz and its strike group have been primarily operating in U.S. 5th Fleet since July, leaving to exercise with the Indian Navy in November. The carrier strike group has been part of the U.S. presence in the Middle East meant to serve as a hedge against Iran since May 2019.

Navy representatives from 5th and U.S. 6th Fleets told USNI that the ships were operating in the Middle East but did not provide additional information. U.S. Africa Command did not immediately respond to a Monday morning request for information from USNI News.

The presence of Nimitz and the Makin Island ARG follow an announcement from AFRICOM that the command had created a new joint task force to manage moving 700 U.S. troops from Somalia to other parts of the continent.

The U.S. has maintained the footprint in Somalia as a hedge against the al-Shabaab militant insurgency. The Pentagon announced the departure of the troops earlier this month on order from the Trump administration. The White House has also ordered the Defense Department to draw down troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Makin Island Amphibious Readiness Group prepares for a replenishment-at-sea on Oct. 30, 2020. US Navy Photo

“AFRICOM did say that roughly 700 troops will be repositioned to neighboring countries to carry out cross-border operations against [al-Shabaab], an al-Qaida-aligned terrorist group. While AFRICOM didn’t name the countries, Djibouti and Kenya are likely destinations given that the U.S. maintains military bases in both nations,” reported Stars and Stripes on Friday.

The U.S. plans to leave a small number of troops in Somalia.

“To be clear, the U.S. is not withdrawing or disengaging from East Africa. We remain committed to helping our African partners build a more secure future,” AFRICOM commander Gen. Stephen Townsend said in a Saturday statement.
“We also remain capable of striking al-Shabaab at the time and place of our choosing—they should not test us.”

Nimitz and the Makin Island ARG join Crete-based expeditionary sea base USS Hershel “Woody” Williams and an Air Force AC-130W Stinger II gunship in support of the troop movement.

Further north, the Navy issued a conspicuous statement and photographs of the guided-missile submarine USS Georgia (SSGN-729) entering the Persian Gulf as a message to Iran and U.S. allies, defense officials told USNI News.

Guided-missile submarine USS Georgia (SSGN-729), front, transits the Strait of Hormuz with the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG-73). US Navy Photo

“SSGNs are one of the most versatile platforms in the fleet, equipped with superior communications capabilities and the ability to carry up to 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles. The platform can also be configured to host up to 66 Special Operations Forces,” reads a Monday statement from U.S. 5th Fleet.