Bataan ready group heads home to Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — More than 4,000 Sailors and marines will soon return to Norfolk from one of the NAVY’s last nine-month deployments.

10 On Your Side told you in August when the Secretary of Defense ordered the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group to a 21-day extension. Now they’re scheduled to make it back to their families on Halloween.

The three-ship group has been involved in the air operations against ISIS. We’re talking about the USS Bataan, USS Mesa Verde, USS Gunston Hall, and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. And the last nine months have been very eventful, as they’ve been moved from place to place.

The NAVY says the 22nd MEU’s Air Combat Element has been flying non-traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions from USS Bataan over Iraq. The Bataan conducted two rescues at sea on March 8 for two Turkish mariners from their sinking cargo ship in the Aegean Sea. They also helped rescue 282 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea on June 6.

Plus, in between those missions, the Bataan was deployed off the coast of Libya. And all three ships from the ready group operated in the Persian Gulf in July.

WAVY.com was pier-side when the group said goodbye to their families February 8. This week, they’ve already dropped the marines off at Camp Lejeune.

And it may be comforting to know as they return that they’re not expected to be sent away for as long a period of time again. Last week, the Navy’s top admiral announced that lengthy deployments are no longer sustainable and that he has a plan to turn things around.

This same group of ships left in March 2011 for a deployment that was extended to last almost a year. The group returned the following February.

10 On Your Side will be pier-side for the happy homecoming this Friday.

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