The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), along with guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67), dry cargo and ammunition ships USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8) and USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE 14) and U.S. flagged container ship M/V Sagamore transited the Strait of Hormuz, entering the Arabian Gulf, Aug. 23. While in the Arabian Gulf, Iwo Jima, flagship of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and the 24th MEU will continue to operate and train alongside regional and coalition partners.
The Iwo Jima ARG/24th MEU is an inherently flexible maneuver force capable of being rapidly deployed across combatant commands to meet emerging missions or contingencies, deter potential adversaries, respond to humanitarian crisis, reassure partners, enhance security, and ensure freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce. USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7) is a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship of the United States Navy. The ship was named for the Battle of Iwo Jima of World War II. The ship was commissioned in 2001 and is in service.
Fabrication work for Iwo Jima began at Ingalls shipyard on 3 September 1996, and the ship’s keel was laid on 12 December 1997. She was launched on 4 February 2000. She was commissioned a year later in Pensacola, Florida, on 30 June 2001. Shortly thereafter, the ship and crew began an accelerated Inter Deployment Training Cycle, which tested virtually every system on board in realistic combat conditions. Iwo Jima was also the first ship on the waterfront open to the public after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.
The Fifth Fleet has been responsible for naval forces in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean since 1995 after a 48-year hiatus. It shares a commander and headquarters with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) in Bahrain. The 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean. The expanse is comprised of 20 countries and includes three chokepoints, critical to the free flow of global commerce.