Navy picking up Marines bound for Persian Gulf

7,000 from 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade shipping out

From Mike Mount
CNN
Friday, January 10, 2003 Posted: 9:45 PM EST (0245 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Three U.S. Navy ships began to deploy Friday from their home port in Norfolk, Virginia, to pick up several thousand Marines in North Carolina en route to the Persian Gulf, Navy officials said.

The ships received orders Friday morning to pick up 7,000 Marines, according to Pentagon officials.

 

The USS Saipan leaves its port at Norfolk, Virginia, on Friday, to pick up members of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

The USS Saipan leaves its port at Norfolk, Virginia, on Friday, to pick up members of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld signed deployment orders later Friday that included the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade from Camp Lejeune. Their orders to embark, or get aboard the ships, had been given earlier.

The three ships are:

 The USS Saipan, an amphibious assault ship.

 The USS Ponce, an amphibious transport dock ship.

 The USS Gunston Hall, a dock landing ship.

Together, the group comprises what the military calls an amphibious ready group, or ARG.

Such groups deploy overseas with helicopters, Marines and a large weapons supply.

The ARG was originally to have deployed late this summer, but it has been ordered out to support U.S. military forces already in the Persian Gulf region, according to a Navy official.