PACIFIC OCEAN --
The first amphibious landing force aboard USS Makin Island left Naval Base San Diego Oct. 1 and made its way to San Francisco, where service members will participate in the city's 2010 Fleet Week.
The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, sailing for California’s Golden Gate, will reach San Francisco Oct. 6 and showcase to the public the Marine Corps' aircraft and equipment and its ability to conduct missions that span the overlapping spectrums of peace and combat, from disaster relief to war.
“Our focus during Fleet Week is to display and demonstrate the Marine Corps’ ability to provide assistance domestically should San Francisco or any other community require it,” said Col. Michael Hudson, the unit’s commanding officer and a San Francisco native. “Sharing our professions with the citizens and giving our Marines and sailors the opportunity to enjoy this great city is a winning combination.”
While in port, the approximately 650 Marines will live on board Makin Island, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship commissioned in October 2009.
The unit’s men and women will take time off to enjoy the city, participate in community-outreach projects, march in parades, hold tours, teach seminars and play in a softball tournament.
“I’m looking forward to playing softball,” said Pfc. Brandon Andrews, an administrative clerk for the unit’s command element. “It is nice to do something out of the ordinary duties of an admin clerk.”
As the Corps seeks to reclaim its naval heritage, the underway transit with the Navy’s Makin Island crew and Amphibious Squadron 5 became a first for many Marines.
“I look forward to learning the ropes. This is my first time ever on a ship of any kind,” said Lance Cpl. Frank Lindsey, a motor transport operator with Combat Logistics Battalion 11, the 11th MEU’s logistics combat element. “It will be a learning experience for me being on a ship and working with the Navy.”
“The MEU will be deploying on the Makin Island next fall, so operating as a ship-based Marine air-ground task force is an excellent training opportunity,” said Hudson. “Getting to do it in front of our countrymen in a venue like San Francisco enriches the experience.”
The 11th MEU’s mission is to provide a rapid-response force capable of conducting conventional amphibious and enhanced maritime interdiction operations from the sea, by surface or air.