A trio of U.S. Navy ships will deploy from San Diego Friday with a combined 4,500 service members on board all bound for the western Pacific and Middle East.
The vessels include amphibious assault ship, USS Makin Island, amphibious transport dock ship, USS Somerset, and amphibious dock landing ship, USS Comstock.
USS Comstock was the first to deploy at 8 a.m. The two other ships will leave from Naval Base San Diego at 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.
Loved ones of the thousands of Marines and sailors aboard the ships gathered at Naval Base San Diego to say their goodbyes – a very difficult day in the life of military families.
"I'm so, so proud to be marrying such a selfless, incredible man, that he's willing to give up so much of his life for our country," one woman, whose fiance boarded one the ships, told NBC 7.
"We are sad, but we are happy because we know that he's fighting for our country," another woman said of her loved one aboard one of the ships. 'He's the best; we are so proud -- all of us."
The three ships are part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, on a mission to help with maritime security operations in the Middle East and to be there in case of a crisis situation.