F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters sit secured to the deck of the USS Wasp. Photo: US Navy via AFP

US military newspaper Stars and Stripes reports that the USS Wasp and its strike group steamed away from Okinawa on Monday, heading out for its first patrol in the Indo-Pacific region since its homeporting in Japan earlier this year.

The multi-ship strike group has been sailing near Okinawa after leaving its base in Sasebo, Japan earlier this month.

The Wasp is an amphibious assault ship designed as a small aircraft carrier. It recently received a group of F-35Bs in the first official deployment of the advanced stealth fighter aboard a US Navy ship. The F-35B is the vertical takeoff, maritime version of the F-35.

The Wasp recently completed a “ready-for-sea assessment” operation during which F-35B Lightning IIs landed aboard the vessel for the first time.

“More than 2,300 members of the Okinawa-based 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit are embarked with the strike group, which includes the 844-foot Wasp, the guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey, the dock-landing ship USS Ashland and the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay,” Stars and Stripes reported.

“During the patrol, sailors and Marines – who are trained to conduct amphibious assaults, seize airfields, reinforce embassies, evacuate civilians and respond to disasters – will learn to work together,” according to a US Navy statement.

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