The U.S. Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) and the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego (LPD 22), both part of the America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), along with embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), departed Guam Jan. 12 following a scheduled port visit.
As the first port visit together in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, many of the Sailors and Marines of America and San Diego had been looking forward to visiting the beautiful island for the first time.
“I’ve never been to Guam before, but it was a really good time,” said Capt. Michael Smith, troop embarkation officer for the 15th MEU aboard San Diego. “Everyone is so friendly and overall it’s been such a fun place to be; I spent time on the beach, walked around the island and ate some good food.”
During their time in Guam, the crews also brought on supplies, conducted routine maintenance, participated in community service projects, and experienced the unique culture and sights on the island.
America’s Chaplain, Cmdr. Mike Foskett, organized the three community service projects for America. On Jan. 8, the crew visited Oceanview Middle School where 25 Sailors and Marines spoke with students about military life and service.
“It was fun getting to spend time with the kids and to talk with them about who we are and what we do,” said Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class Anais Fernandez, one of the volunteers at the event. “The kids were amazing and I hope we get to come back to spend more time with them.”
America’s crew members also visited the Catholic Social Services Adult Day Care Center on Jan. 9 where they had an opportunity to interact with the elderly and share experiences and stories.
“It was a rewarding experience,” said Foskett. “The crew worked hard to help visit the Adult Day Care and school, assisted in cleaning beaches, and get to know some of the people of Guam.”
While in port, both crews had the chance to explore the island, seeing sights and interacting with locals.
“It was refreshing to be able to relax and unwind at such an amazing place,” said Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Anthony Campbell, a Sailor assigned to America. “The beaches, the food, the people, everything was amazing, and I think being here was a good thing to do before going back to sea.”
Marines assigned to the 15th MEU and the crew of America spent the first few days of the port visit conducting a vehicle wash down. The agricultural wash down and inspection process is a requirement for re-entry into the United States by the United States Department of Agriculture and Custom’s and Border Patrol (CBP). The purpose of the evolution was to ensure that no contraband or foreign invasive species in the form of dirt, debris or pests are introduced to the Unites States.
The America Amphibious Ready Group, with embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to strengthen partnerships and serve as a ready-response force for any type of contingency.
Seventh Fleet, which celebrates its 75th year in 2018, spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. Seventh Fleet’s area of operation encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 Sailors in the 7th Fleet.
MC3 Vance Hand, USS America (LHA 6)