Norfolk, Virginia - More than 4,000 Sailors and Marines from the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed a six-month deployment when the ships arrived at Norfolk Naval Station and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, today.
While deployed the Wasp ARG/22 MEU team operated in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations (AOO) conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts, and supporting Operation Odyssey Lightning (OOL) in Sirte, Libya.
"This ARG/MEU team has had an exceptional deployment at every level," said Commander, Amphibious Squadron Six Capt. F. Byron Ogden. "The hard work and dedication of every one of our Sailors and Marines is what made that possible. After months of superbly answering our call to duty, now we can enjoy the holiday with our families and friends."
The Wasp ARG and 22nd MEU's mission during OOL was to conduct precision air strikes against Daesh targets in Sirte to support the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) forces fighting there. Precision airstrike capability from the ARG was provided from Aug. 1 to Dec. 6. On Dec. 6 GNA forced claimed liberation of the city.
The Wasp ARG and 22nd MEU also participated in bilateral exercises in both AOOs to include Exercise African Sea Lion with the Royal Moroccan Navy, Exercise Noble Shirley with the Israeli Defense Force, and Exercise Sea Breeze, a 13 partner nation training exercise that was the largest ever international amphibious exercise in the Black Sea.
To accomplish these missions the ARG travelled a total of 87,000 nautical miles, conducted over 2,400 flight hours, and completed 44 replenishments-at-sea during the course of the deployment.
"Over the past six months, we have shown the incredible flexibility and combat power that the MEU and Navy-Marine Corps team bring to the fight," said 22nd MEU Commanding Officer Col. Todd P. Simmons. "Every Marine and Sailor contributed phenomenally, and I couldn't be prouder of this incredible team."
The Wasp ARG consist of Amphibious Squadron Six, amphibious dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17), amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1), Fleet Surgical Team (FST) Two, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) Four Detachments, Beachmaster Unit (BMU) Two detachments, TACRON 22, HSC-22 det. Two.
The 22nd MEU consists of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit's Command Element, the Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team 1/6, Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264, and Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22.