7th Fleet Commander Visits Wasp, Observes F-35B Flight Operations For the First Time

By Commander, Amphibious Force 7th Fleet Public Affairs | April 3, 2018

WESTERN PACIFIC —

Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet visited the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) on April 2 to see Navy-Marine Corps integration firsthand as both services continue on deployment. 

 

On Wasp, Sawyer met with senior leaders and discussed F-35B Lightning II capabilities and how it adds to the lethality of the Navy-marine Corps team. 

 

Wasp, flagship of the Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group, is on a routine patrol with Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. Wasp embarked a detachment of F-35Bs on March 5, marking the first time the aircraft has deployed in the Indo-Pacific region. 

 

“The F-35B is a game-changer, not only for the Navy-Marine Corps team, but for the way we operate here in 7th Fleet,” said Sawyer, who observed a takeoff and landing of the F-35B while aboard. “The Up-Gunned ESG—to which F-35B is a key component—gives our amphibious force unprecedented reach and lethality.” 

 

Sawyer also met with Sailors and Marines while touring Wasp for the first time since the ship forward-deployed to Sasebo in the middle of January.  

 

Wasp and other ships of the Wasp ESG recently completed Amphibious Integration Training with the MEU across a number of mission areas such as amphibious assault, Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO), Humanitarian Assistance Disaster Relief (HADR), Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS), and tactical aircraft recovery. The training demonstrated the Navy-Marine Corps team’s ability to carry out complex operations from the sea as a combined force. 

 

“The Wasp ESG and the MEU embody the ‘crisis response force’ moniker,” said Sawyer. “I’m confident you’re ready for anything.”

 

Seventh Fleet, which is celebrating its 75th year in 2018, spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. Seventh Fleet's area of operation encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 Sailors in the 7th Fleet.