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Warships On Seven-Month Deployment

Three San Diego-based warships departed today for a seven-month deployment that includes anti-piracy operations, a job made all the more crucial following the shooting deaths of four Americans on a hijacked yacht off Somalia.

The USS Boxer, an 844-foot amphibious assault ship, Green Bay, an amphibious transport dock, and Comstock, an amphibious dock landing ship, left with 1,800 sailors for the western Pacific Ocean and waters off the Middle East.

On board the ships are 2,200 Marines from Camp Pendleton's 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Their mission -- to provide humanitarian aid, support operations overseas and combat piracy.

The four boaters captured by pirates on Friday were shot and killed by their captors early today while negotiations were under way for their release. Jean and Scott Adam, who often docked in Marina del Rey, and another couple from Washington state were aboard the 58-foot Quest.

"It's shocking news," Boxer Capt. Frank Michael told 10News prior to the ship's departure. He said guarding against piracy was one of their "mission sets" and that the crew was ready to respond if necessary.

The 13th MEU, also known as the "Fighting 13," was the first Marine unit to take action in Iraq in 1990, boarding two Iraqi tankers whose crew violated United Nations sanctions.

The Boxer is sixth in its Wasp class and was named for a British ship captured by the United States in the war of 1812.

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