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By 26th MEU Public Affairs Office
MEDITERRANEAN SEA - The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) conducted a maritime training exercise with naval ships and aircraft from Italy and France, June 24.
The exercise included precision maneuvering operations off the coast of Sicily involving the ARG flagship, the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), and the Italian amphibious transport dock ship ITS San Giorgio, as well as the French amphibious assault ship FS Mistral and the French frigate FS Guepratte.
“This exercise provided a great opportunity for partner nations to work together and share strategies for real-world scenarios,” said Capt. Bryan Carmichael, commanding officer of Bataan. “Big 5’s Sailors and Marines demonstrated our continuous commitment to NATO partners, regional security, and national interests.”
Additionally, aircraft embarked aboard Bataan, including MV-22B Ospreys from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 365 (Reinforced) and MH-60S Seahawks from the Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, conducted dynamic landings on the flight deck of the Mistral, while French Alouette and Gazelle helicopters and an Italian SH101-A helicopter conducted landings on the flight deck of Bataan.
The Bataan ARG also includes the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), which is operating in the Mediterranean Sea, and the Harpers Ferry-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), which is operating in the Black Sea alongside the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78).
“The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s operations at sea alongside our NATO allies represent another demonstration of our steadfast and mutual commitment to ensuring a free and peaceful Europe,” said Capt. Lance Lesher, commander of the Bataan ARG. “No nation can confront today’s challenges alone, and our valued partners in this region can count on us to be engaged and postured as a premier crisis response team in an increasingly complex security environment.”
Bataan ARG and 26th MEU consist of more than 4,000 total Sailors and Marines, who are operating in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe after more than five months deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, which includes the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf.
ARGMEUs operate continuously across the globe and provide the geographic combatant commanders with a forward-deployed, flexible and responsive sea-based MAGTF. The blue-green team is fully capable of conducting operations across a full spectrum of conventional, unconventional and hybrid warfare.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.