Marines with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force — Darwin, load into an MV-22B Osprey from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit during Exercise Koolendong on Sept. 3. (Sgt. Sarah Fiocco / Marine Corps)
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About 1,150 Marines are deploying to Australia with four CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, marking the start of the second phase — and largest contingent — of Marines to head Down Under for a six-month rotational deployment.
For the first time, an aviation combat element comprising 100 Marines and four Super Stallions will participate in Marine Rotational Force-Darwin. The Marines and aircraft are assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 24, based out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
They are expected to arrive in Darwin by Tuesday.
They’ll be followed by about 1,000 members of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., who are expected to arrive in Australia in early April, the release states.
This will be the third rotation of Marines to northwestern Australia. The first two rotations each involved about 200 Marines assigned to companies based in Hawaii.
Marines with Lima Company, 3/3, returned from their six-month deployment in September. Members of Fox Company, 2/3, deployed to Australia in 2012.
The build-up of Marines keeps the expansion of the rotational force on track. The Corps plans to send 2,500 Marines — a full Marine air-ground task force — to Darwin in 2016 as the third phase.
The Marines arriving in Australia this week will stay aboard the Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin. The members of 1/5 will stay in Robertson Barracks aboard an Australian army base.
The Marines are expected to take part in a number of exercises during their deployment, including Alam Halfa in New Zealand and Southern Frontier and Golden Eagle in Australia, according to Lt. Gen. Terry Robling, commander of Marine Corps Forces Pacific. All of the exercises are designed to boost interoperability between U.S. and Australian forces.