Dear SAN ANTONIO Families and Friends,

Greetings from the Indian Ocean near the Horn of Africa! It has been an exciting first month of our maiden deployment.

We were originally scheduled to sail on 26AUG for Onslow Bay to embark elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). During the weekend prior, we were conducting some routine maintenance on our sterngate and discovered a pretty significant material problem. The ship’s maintenance team including the regional maintenance center and our port engineer were able to get the right contractors onboard in a timely manner to get the sterngate repaired and the ship underway in time to join the other IWO JIMA Strike Group ships and leave for deployment on time. It was a true team effort, including our embarked Marines who helped us out by trucking a lot of their equipment to Norfolk to load pierside.

We sailed on 28AUG and spent a day off of Onslow Beach, NC to load the remainder of our embarked Marine equipment. We had a very uneventful trans-Atlantic passage; the weather was very cooperative and we were able to conduct a Burial at Sea ceremony, helicopter deck landing qualifications, and other needed training.

We sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar in early September and entered the Mediterranean Sea. For many of your Sailors and Marines, this was the first time they had been out of the Atlantic Ocean. The weather was hazy, so we missed an opportunity to view the Rock of Gibraltar. Maybe we will see it on the way home.

SAN ANTONIO’s first Mediterranean port visit was to Naples, Italy. The ship med-moored, also a first, which was a challenging ship-driving evolution. The crew did great in all aspects of the port visit and their liberty mission. They represented their country and the Navy well, conducting some community relations projects, and tours to Rome, Pisa, Pompei, Capri, and other beautiful Italian cities in the area.

Following our Naples port visit, it was a quick two day transit to Marmaris, Turkey. During the transit, we promoted three of our shipmates to Chief Petty Officer, a significant career milestone. Congratulations to HMC (SW) Curran, CSC (SW) Foster, and FCC (SW) Shaw! Marmaris is a beautiful resort town with a lot to offer SAN ANTONIO’s Sailors and Marines. The crew did well again; taking some nice tours of the surrounding area and hosting a reception for the US Ambassador to Turkey and almost 200 other dignitaries. It was SAN ANTONIO’s time to shine, and shine we did! The reception was a very nice affair and the Ambassador had nice things to say about the ship and the crew.

We departed Turkey and headed for the Suez Canal. The canal transit went well and we ‘chopped’ or reported to the Fifth Fleet Area of Operations (AOR) last week. We immediately went to work conducting Maritime Security Operations, which will be the majority of the operations we will do while we are here in this AOR. We will be part of a coalition working to build a lawful maritime and secure environment which leads to regional stability and prosperity.

SAN ANTONIO and your Sailors and Marines are doing well and we appreciate the support you are all providing back home. If you have any questions or feedback about the familygram, please send it to me at the address below or the Command Master Chief, CMDCM Tom Meglen

With respect,

CDR Kurt Kastner

Commanding Officer


"Never Retreat, Never Surrender"

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