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USS America Amphibious Ready Group stops in Hawaii on way home to San Diego

Sailors and Marines aboard the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) render honors to the USS Arizona memorial as the ship arrives in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Jan. 23, 2018.

VANCE HAND/U.S. NAVY

By WILLIAM COLE | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser | Published: January 25, 2018

HONOLULU (Tribune News Service) — Some of the Navy’s high-tech firepower is on display in Pearl Harbor with a stopover by the USS America Amphibious Ready Group following a seven-month deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific, Horn of Africa, Mediterranean and Middle East.

The three-ship group out of San Diego comprises more than 1,800 sailors and 2,600 Marines assigned to the amphibious assault ship America, amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor, and amphibious transport dock ship USS San Diego.

The $3 billion America, commissioned in 2014, is what’s known as an “aviation-centric” amphibious ship. The aircraft carrier-like ship doesn’t have a rear well deck for amphibious vehicles like most of the ships of its type. The extra space is used for tilt-rotor Ospreys and helicopters.

The more than $1.3 billion San Diego is part of the San Antonio class and incorporates stealth technology into its design to reduce radar cross-section.

During the deployment, America Amphibious Ready Group ships rehearsed amphibious operations and combat sustainment near Djibouti, operated in the Persian Gulf, and stopped in Singapore and Guam.

The ship group stopped in Hawaii and conducted training nearby in July, and the America participated in Rim of the Pacific exercises in Hawaii in 2016.

The ships and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Tuesday for a final port call before heading back to San Diego, the Navy said.

While in Hawaii, the ships will be picking up what are known as “tigers” — family and friends of sailors and Marines on board, the Navy said. The tigers get to experience life on board the ships as they head back to San Diego.

“We’re thankful to spend some time in Hawaii for our final port visit of this deployment,” Capt. Joe Olson, America’s commanding officer, said in a Navy release. “We’re looking forward to bringing on friends and family for our journey home and adding a fun and exciting tiger cruise to an already successful deployment. Every sailor and Marine can be proud of what we’ve achieved in the last seven months.”

The Navy did not say how long the group will stay in Hawaii.

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