An SA-330J Puma helicopter prepares to pick up cargo from the USS Germantown, which is now returning to San Diego after a decade in Japan. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew R. Cole/U.S. Navy
Sept. 16 (UPI) -- After a decade of forward deployment in Japan, the USS Germantown departed U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo on Wednesday.
The USS Germantown, which has detached from Amphibious Squadron 11, is returning to San Diego, the same port it departed from on Jan. 5, 2011 to replace the USS Harpers Ferry in Japan.
The USS Rushmore will replace the USS Germantown later this year, according to the Navy.
"Working with our partners and allies to foster an integrated, global effort to safeguard free and open access to the Indo-Pacific region is a critical duty, and it has been a tremendously rewarding opportunity for this team," Cmdr. Cullen Greenfield, Germantown's commanding officer, said in a statement.
"Germantown sails for San Diego with pride as we look back on a decade of dedicated service," Greenfield said.
Commissioned in 1986, the USS Germantown participated in numerous operations and exercises across the Indo-Pacific over the last decade, including Cobra Gold, Valiant Shield, Kamandag and Sama Sama.
Notably, it took part in Tiger Triumph 2019, the first U.S.-India bilateral exercise to feature all three joint services.
Over the summer, the USS Germantown participated in Talisman Sabre 21, a two-week, large-scale multinational maritime operation that integrated the U.S. Navy, Royal Australian Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and the Republic of Korea Navy.
In August, the USS Germantown was among six task groups from the U.S, British, Australian, Japanese and Indian navies that conducted operational deployments in the Indo-Pacific region, USNI News reports.
As part of the deployments, the American Expeditionary Strike Group, which included the USS Germantown, conducted routine operations in the Philippine Sea.
"Whether strengthening alliances and partnerships during a myriad of amphibious operations, or conducting humanitarian assistance when people of the Indo-Pacific region needed it most, Germantown has always set the standard in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region," Rear Adm. Chris Engdahl, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 7, said in a statement.
"A great ship and crew comes to replace them, but they will be missed," Engdahl said.
USS Rushmore, which is replacing Germantown, is another Whidbey Island-class ship that was commissioned on June 1, 1991.
Its commanding officer is Cmdr. Emily Royse. Amphibious Squadron 11 and elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit operate in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.