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By Amphibious Squadron 8 Public Affairs and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) Communication Strategy & Operations
Marines and Sailors from the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) and dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), part of the Bataan Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (MEUSOC) arrived in Souda Bay, Greece for a scheduled port visit to enhance U.S.-Greek relations, Aug. 2, 2023.
“Our Sailors and Marines onboard USS Bataan and USS Carter Hall are excited to visit Souda Bay," said Capt. Martin Robertson, Commodore, Amphibious Squadron 8 (CPR-8). "Greece is a valued NATO ally and we appreciate their continued friendship.”
During the visit, Sailors and Marines will have a chance to experience the rich culture of the area through morale, welfare, and popular cultural and historical landmarks around the city. This port visit marks the first stop for Bataan and Carter Hall while transiting to the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command area of operations.
“These visits are important; they highlight our Nation’s commitment to strengthening our partnership with like-minded allies and partners committed to the collective maritime security within the region,” said Col. Dennis “Dolf” Sampson, Commanding Officer, 26th MEU(SOC). “It’s also a great opportunity for the Marines and Sailors of the 26th MEU(SOC) to experience a new culture, rest, and refit prior to the next set of Operations, Activities, and Investments within the Sixth Fleet area of responsibility.”
The ship’s presence in the Mediterranean Sea is a demonstration of our continued commitment to the collective maritime security of the region.
“We’re in this area of responsibility to foster security and stability, and deter any destabilizing actions while upholding the maritime law in the region,” said Capt. Paul Burkhart, Commanding Officer of the USS Bataan. “Through ports visits such as this, we also look to strengthen our relationship with our allies and partners in this region. This is part of the adventure our Sailors and Marines enjoy, exploring different parts of the world.”
The Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is a special operations capable, Marine Air-Ground Task Force comprised of approximately 4,500 Marines and Sailors supported by three major subordinate elements with the ability to provide agility in a dynamic security environment.
These subordinate elements include the Command Element, Ground Combat Element, Aviation Combat Element and the Logistics Combat Element.
Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), under the tactical command and control of Task Force 61/2, is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., allied and partner interests.
The Bataan ARG consists of the Bataan, Mesa Verde, and Carter Hall. Embarked commands include CPR 8, Fleet Surgical Team 8, Tactical Air Control Squadron 21, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26, Assault Craft Unit 4, Beach Master Unit 2, and 26th MEU(SOC).
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa 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.