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Aviation boatswains mates watch from vulture's row as an AV-8B Harrier with Marine Attack Squadron 214 lands on the flight deck of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex Sunday. Essex is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, which is currently on patrol in the western Pacific.
Aviation boatswains mates watch from vulture's row as an AV-8B Harrier with Marine Attack Squadron 214 lands on the flight deck of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex Sunday. Essex is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, which is currently on patrol in the western Pacific. (Eva-Marie Ramsaran/U.S. Navy)
Aviation boatswains mates watch from vulture's row as an AV-8B Harrier with Marine Attack Squadron 214 lands on the flight deck of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex Sunday. Essex is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, which is currently on patrol in the western Pacific.
Aviation boatswains mates watch from vulture's row as an AV-8B Harrier with Marine Attack Squadron 214 lands on the flight deck of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex Sunday. Essex is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, which is currently on patrol in the western Pacific. (Eva-Marie Ramsaran/U.S. Navy)
Fire Controlman 3rd Class Justin Clark (middle), Fire Controlman 2nd Class Richard Todd (left) and Fire Controlman 2nd Class Victor Masterson prepare to load a NATO Sea Sparrow missile in a launcher aboard the forward deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex Friday. The Essex is currently underway for a patrol of the western Pacific.
Fire Controlman 3rd Class Justin Clark (middle), Fire Controlman 2nd Class Richard Todd (left) and Fire Controlman 2nd Class Victor Masterson prepare to load a NATO Sea Sparrow missile in a launcher aboard the forward deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex Friday. The Essex is currently underway for a patrol of the western Pacific. (TERRY MATLOCK/US NAVY)
Fire Controlman 3rd Class Justin Clark (left) and Fire Controlman 2nd Class Victor Masterson guide a  NATO Sea Sparrow missile in its launcher aboard the forward deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex Friday. The Essex is currently underway for a patrol in the western Pacific.
Fire Controlman 3rd Class Justin Clark (left) and Fire Controlman 2nd Class Victor Masterson guide a NATO Sea Sparrow missile in its launcher aboard the forward deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex Friday. The Essex is currently underway for a patrol in the western Pacific. (Terry Matlock/U.S. Navy)
A Landing Craft Air Cushion vehicle prepares to embark on the Amphibious Transport Dock ship USS Denver that is moored at West Army Pier in Okinawa Japan Friday. Denver is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, which is currently on patrol in the western Pacific.
A Landing Craft Air Cushion vehicle prepares to embark on the Amphibious Transport Dock ship USS Denver that is moored at West Army Pier in Okinawa Japan Friday. Denver is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, which is currently on patrol in the western Pacific. (Spencer Mickler/U.S. Navy)
Seaman Brooke Haney, Seaman Recruit Travis Abankwah, and Seaman Recruit Dustin Davidson pull on a line Friday while mooring at West Army Pier in Okinawa, Japan aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown. The Germantown is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, which is currently on patrol in the western Pacific.
Seaman Brooke Haney, Seaman Recruit Travis Abankwah, and Seaman Recruit Dustin Davidson pull on a line Friday while mooring at West Army Pier in Okinawa, Japan aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown. The Germantown is part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, which is currently on patrol in the western Pacific. (Spencer Mickler/U.S. Navy)
Several MH-60S Sea Hawks from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 sit on the flight deck of the forward deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex Thursday at Sasebo Naval Base. The Essex is currently underway for a patrol of the western Pacific.
Several MH-60S Sea Hawks from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 sit on the flight deck of the forward deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex Thursday at Sasebo Naval Base. The Essex is currently underway for a patrol of the western Pacific. (Terry Matlock/U.S. Navy)

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Essex Amphibious Ready Group departed Sasebo last week for a fall patrol of the western Pacific.

Along with the amphibious assault ship USS Essex are the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Denver. Embarked aboard the ships are elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit from Okinawa.

During the patrol, the ready group and the 31st MEU will be completing an amphibious integration training and certification exercise (CERTEX) off the coast of Okinawa, according to Navy officials. “This certification exercise allows sailors from the amphibious ready group to train with their Marine counterparts, solidifying the importance of our blue-green team,” Capt. Bradley Lee, commodore of Amphibious Squadron 11, said in a Navy news release.

The ships and the 31st MEU have had a busy year. In March, they traveled to Oshima Island after it was devastated by the deadly March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The group returned in April and was back out again in July to participate in Talisman Sabre 2011, a biannual humanitarian exercise in Australia. The Essex was forced to forego the exercise due to unspecified maintenance issues.

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