Amphibious assault ship USS ESSEX (LHD 2), flagship of the ESSEX Amphibious Ready Group (ESX ARG), along with San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27), Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52) and embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) entered the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, Sept. 12. While in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, the ESX ARG and 11th MEU will operate and train alongside regional and coalition partners.
As an inherently flexible maneuver force, capable of supporting routine and contingency operations, the ARG/MEU’s presence demonstrates the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps commitment to regional partners and maritime security.
The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water 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 critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal, and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.
USS Essex (LHD-2) is a Wasp-class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) in service with the United States Navy. The amphibious assault ship was built at what is now Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was launched 23 February 1991 and commissioned on 17 October 1992 while moored at Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island. She is the fifth ship named for Essex County, Massachusetts. Essex served as the command ship for Expeditionary Strike Group Seven until replaced by USS Bonhomme Richard on 23 April 2012.
The Fifth Fleet is a numbered fleet of the United States Navy. It 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. Fifth Fleet/NAVCENT is a component command of, and reports to, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). Established in 1944, the Fifth Fleet conducted extensive operations against Japanese forces in the Central Pacific during World War II.