The USS Essex Group equipped with new F-35Bs has been secretly deployed from San Diego towards North Korea, according to reports.
The decision to not announce the departure of 5,000 sailors and marines were made at the discretion of the new U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Adm. John Aquilino, two sources told USNI News.
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The communications move was designed to change the expectations on what information the public could expect when ships in the Pacific area of operations deploy.
Timesofsandiego.com reports: The amphibious assault ship USS Essex, amphibious transport dock USS Anchorage and dock landing ship USS Rushmore left on Tuesday, the U.S Naval Institute website reported.
“The Essex Amphibious Ready Group with embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit got underway from San Diego, Tuesday,” Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. Charlie Brown said in a statement to USNI News. “For reasons of operational security, we are not publicly disclosing any additional details.”
Typically the departures are announced days in advance so that families and the media can attend.
The ready group carries 5,000 sailors and Marines, including the “Wake Island Avengers” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 flying the new F-35B stealth fighter. The Essex is carrying the jets for the first time, along with its complement of helicopters and tiltrotors.
The Essex group completed readiness training off Southern California in late June.