Norfolk, Virginia - The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) returned to her homeport of Naval Station Norfolk, Sept. 9, after completing Amphibious Ready Group, Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise (ARGMEUEX).

ARGMEUEX is the first of two major warfighting tests required for ARGs to be certified for deployment by Carrier Strike Group Four.

“The Amphibious Ready Group, Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise is an important step towards the deployment certification process for the Sailors and Marines from the ships of Commander, Amphibious Squadron Six and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit,” said Rear Adm. Kenneth R. Whitesell, commander, Carrier Strike Group Four. “The Sailors and Marines have performed well in a wide range of realistic training scenarios that are designed to have the team prepared for the full spectrum of mission sets conducted by the Navy and Marine Corps team, providing combat power from the sea.”

The Kearsarge ARG is comprised of Kearsarge, Amphibious Squadron Six, the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) and the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43).

The final certification before deployment for the Kearsarge ARG will be Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX).

“ARGMUEX was a great training exercise and our Sailors and Marines learned a lot,” said Capt. Daniel S. Blackburn, commander, Kearsarge ARG. “COMPTUEX will be a more demanding exercise. We just have to continue to embrace the training opportunity, be enthusiastic, and be coachable.”

Interoperability between the ARG and MEU is a key area tested during the exercises.

“As one of the nation's premier expeditionary warfighting organizations, the MEU is unique in its ability to operate simultaneously at sea, ashore, and in the air, while moving seamlessly between these domains to resolve conflict, conduct humanitarian assistance or combat the enemy in environments that would otherwise be inaccessible," said Col. Michael Perez, commanding officer, 22nd MEU. “ARGMEUEX is critical in our training pipeline as it affords us the opportunity to build proficiency in these complex missions.”

During the exercise, Sailors and Marines worked together throughout amphibious operations and simulated scenarios such as humanitarian assistance, raids, and visit, board, search, and seizure drills.

“The officers and crew of Kearsarge welcome sophisticated real-world training opportunities like ARGMEUEX,” said Capt. David Guluzian, Kearsarge’s commanding officer. “We understand that by stressing the limitations of our Navy-Marine Corps team onboard Kearsarge and with the Kearsarge ARG, in a controlled training environment across a broad spectrum of threats, we can learn a great deal about how to better fight and defeat any potential adversary.  As a product of this high quality synthetic training, I can say with 100 percent certainty that we are an even more effective, lethal, and combat-ready unit thanks to the best efforts of our Sailors and Marines over the past few weeks.”