By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jessica L. Dowell
The Harpers-Ferry class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed the Romanian-led exercise, Spring Storm 2018 (SS18), March 15, in Capu Midia, Romania.
SS18 is a Romanian-hosted exercise to increase interoperability between Romanian and U.S. forces. The exercise is designed to enhance the enduring relationship of the forces through a series of training events that took place March 8-15.
“The Sailors and Marines of Oak Hill were honored to be selected to participate in an exercise of this magnitude and importance with our Romanian allies in the Black Sea,” said Cmdr. Philip Knight, commanding officer of Oak Hill.
The 307th Romanian Naval Infantry integrated with Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th MEU, to enhance U.S.-Romanian combat proficiency and strengthen the interoperability of maritime forces. SS18 was an opportunity for both forces to develop procedures and proficiently execute any level of warfare.
“This exercise proves, year-by-year, that we must continue these exercises to further increase interoperability,” said Romanian navy Capt. Auras-Liviu Coman. “Both sides have proved their success in the ability to operate together in a complex manner.”
Exercises such as amphibious assaults, multilateral mortar training, squad ranges and medical casualty evacuation drills provided professional development for U.S. Sailors and Marines, and Romanian troops, reinforcing existing relationships.
“We have identified areas to further develop our relationship in our next series of exercises,” said Coman. “Friendship and building trust are the first pillars in naval diplomacy.”
The Oak Hill team, consisting of approximately 400 Sailors and 400 Marines assigned to the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 26th MEU, were heavily involved in land and sea operations during SS18.
Executive Officer, BLT 2/6, 26th MEU Maj. Breck Perry said the exercise was a great success.
“By working alongside our allies, we learn from one another, share evolving tactics, techniques and procedures, and cultivate relationships that enable us to more effectively respond to crisis and to thrive, should we find ourselves in the chaos of combat together,” said Perry.
The Iwo Jima ARG embarks the 26th MEU and consists of the Oak Hill, the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), Fleet Surgical Team 4 and 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22, components of Naval Beach Group 2 and the embarked staff of commander, Amphibious Squadron 4.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners to advance U.S. national interests, security and stability in Europe and Africa.
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For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.