VA Based Navy Ships Picking Up 24th MEU For 6-Month Tour

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- Three Virginia-based Navy ships have set out on a regularly-scheduled deployment.

Thousands of sailors aboard the amphibious ships USS Iwo Jima, USS Gunston Hall and USS New York departed Tuesday from Naval Station Norfolk and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story for a tour that will last at least six months.

The ships will patrol the Navy's 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility, which include parts of Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Accompanying the sailors will be the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The ships are first heading to North Carolina to load Marines and their equipment. The Navy says the deployment is part of a regular rotation of forces.

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