Amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu left Naval Base San Diego Tuesday morning for a six-month mission, just one year after returning from its last deployment.
“It’s sad, but we’re here to support our families,” said Chelsea Coulston, president of the Family Readiness Group.
Coulston said the ship has been underway on shorter missions in the months leading to deployment.
“I think on deployment day, most of us are really prepared,” she said. “But you can’t prepare fully prepare for missing your husband for six-plus months. There’s just no underway long enough to prepare you for that.”
The Peleliu’s first stop will be the Western Pacific to take part in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.
“Twenty-three nations, 47 ships, six submarines, over 200 aircraft, over 25,000 naval personnel across those countries,” said Amphibious Squadron 3 Commodore Clint Carroll.
The international exercise takes place every two years.
“The United States Navy can’t safeguard all the nations of the world, so being able to operate with other countries gives us the opportunity to further our power as well as help them secure their countries and their maritime areas,” said Capt. Paul Spedero, commanding officer of the Peleliu.
After RIMPAC, the ship will head to Japan to be part of the Navy’s forward-deployed – or “on call” – fleet.
“Their primary mission is presence,” Capt. Spedero explained.
When asked if the strike group could be called to help with the current unrest in Iraq, Commodore Carroll said, “When the ships are ready to go, when the task force is ready to go, we are ready to respond to any mission assigned.”
USS Peleliu has a crew of more than 1,000 sailors, many of whom Spedero said are on their first deployment.
Amphibious assault ships’ primary mission is to transport ground troops from sea to land.