USS Boxer enters 5th Fleet area of operations
By CHRIS CHURCH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: April 5, 2016
MANAMA, Bahrain — The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit entered the 5th Fleet area of operations Tuesday, the Navy said in a statement.
The Boxer group — comprising the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer, the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans, and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry — will replace the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit in the region.
The San Diego-based group will participate in theater security operations with other militaries and support Operation Inherent Resolve, the campaign to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Navy statement said.
Over the past year, U.S. ships have been involved in the campaign against the Islamic State, monitoring moves by Iran and the situation in Yemen, where a civil war is raging.
Last month, the USS Kearsarge, flagship of the outgoing amphibious group, received the annual Battle Effectiveness award — also known as the Battle “E” — which is given to the best ships in the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets.
During its deployment to 5th Fleet, the Kearsarge group supported the campaign in Iraq and Syria with airstrikes. A group of Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit was also sent into Iraq to set up a fire base near Mosul, where American troops are preparing Iraqi forces for a planned assault on the city which has been under Islamic State occupation since mid-2014. The existence of the fire base was announced last month after Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin, an artilleryman with the unit, was killed and several other Marines were injured in a rocket attack by the Islamic State.
The 5th Fleet area of operations covers some 2.5 million square miles, including the Persian Gulf.