Bataan ARG/MEU Transits from U.S. 5th Fleet to 6th Fleet
Ships of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) transited the Suez Canal Oct. 2, 2014, marking the beginning journey homeward.
Deployed since February 8, 2014, the Bataan ARG/MEU is comprised of the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), and embarked Marines from the 22nd MEU. The Bataan ARG/MEU is specifically purposed to execute maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts to enhance regional security and stability.
While tasked to U.S. 5th Fleet, the Air Combat Element of the 22nd MEU executed strike missions against ISIL in Iraq, and non-traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (NTISR) flights over Iraq and Syria.
Additionally, the Bataan ARG/MEU successfully completed two rescues at sea, a number of support operations and participated in the first days of Exercise Eager Lion. The ship also maintained a high state of readiness while at sea for up to 135 days between port visits.
As the Bataan ARG/MEU moves into the U.S. 6th Fleet AOR, the approximate 4,000 U.S. Sailors and Marines will continue to serve as a ready, agile deployable force by supporting security cooperation efforts and maintaining its posture as forward presence capable of contingency operations, crisis response, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief until its return to Norfolk, Va. in late October.
“The Sailors and Marines of the Bataan ARG and 22nd MEU have worked hard over the last eight months and proven everyday they can handle our nations call,” said Bataan Commanding Officer Capt. George J. Vassilakis. “In 6th Fleet, we’ll maintain our obligation to our mission, and prepare to bring these mighty warships back home safely.”
The Bataan ARG is commanded by Capt. Neil A. Karnes, commodore, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 6. The 22nd MEU is led by Colonel William Dunn. Together, the Bataan ARG/MEU provides combatant commanders a versatile sea-based, expeditionary force that can be tailored to a variety of missions, including quick reaction crisis response options in maritime, littoral and inland environments in support of the nation’s maritime strategy.
The Bataan ARG and 22nd MEU has been relieved by the Makin Island ARG and the 11th MEU in the 5th Fleet area of operation.
While in 6th Fleet, the Bataan ARG/MEU presence will strengthen regional maritime partnerships by conducting international exercises and making routine port visits. Port visits, when scheduled, are used to strengthen our relationship with our partner nations and help fosters a better understanding of the maritime environment as a whole. The Bataan ARG/MEU is one of six permanent and rotational ARG/MEUs operating around the globe.