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By 1st Lt. Jasmine Scott
Approximately 50 U.S. Marines from II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF), based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, embarked on Military Sealift Command Europe and Africa (MSCEURAF)/Commander Task Force 63 (CTF-63) expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Trenton (T-EPF 5) for a one-month deployment, Nov. 17.
Their mission exercises II MEF's ability to rapidly deploy Marines into the European theater aboard an expeditionary fast transport ship. This event is one way II MEF exercises its flexibility and commitment to the European theater, ability to embark on board non-standard platforms, and operate in a maritime environment filled with island chains and choke points.
"This deployment is an example of the many opportunities II MEF Marines have to travel the world, experience different cultures, and train and build camaraderie with fellow service members from our partner nations," said Maj. Joshua Ramirez.
The majority of the Marine force comes from 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2d Marine Logistics Group, and 8th Communication Battalion, II MEF Information Group. These two units are deploying combat engineering and communication specialists, respectively. This detachment of Marines will visit several Mediterranean Allies where they will train to improve their unit-level readiness and military-to-military cooperation.
This agile force showcases the dynamic nature of U.S. military presence, while fostering our naval integration and exercise planning capabilities. II MEF deployed forces can scale up in size or composite with other naval, joint or allied forces.
"We are very excited to have the II MEF aboard," said Trenton's Officer in Charge Cmdr. Timothy Rustico. "This deployment is a perfect way to demonstrate our ship's unique transport capabilities and interoperability with the movement of Marines and their equipment."
Trenton is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., allied and partner interests.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.
CTF 63 is the operational commander of all Sixth Fleet air and sea logistics. Military members from CTF 63 work side-by-side with civilians from Military Sealift Command Europe and Africa as one unified staff. While in theater, Military Sealift Command's Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force and Special Mission ships report to CTF 63 along with cargo planes that support Sixth Fleet and U.S. European Command logistics missions.
MSC operates approximately 125 naval auxiliary civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, strategically prepositions combat cargo at sea and moves military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners around the world."