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NEWS | Sept. 8, 2023

U.S. Navy and Marines arrive in Latvia for the upcoming German Baltic Sea exercise Northern Coast 2023

By 1st Lt. Stephanie Downing, 26 MEU(SOC)

The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) and embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) Bravo Command Element, arrived in Riga, Latvia for a routine and scheduled port visit, Sept. 7, 2023.

While in Riga, Marines and Sailors will have the opportunity to learn about the region’s history and experience the city’s rich culture.

“We are excited to be welcomed to Latvia,” said Capt. Marc Davis, commanding officer, USS Mesa Verde. “This is a great opportunity for the Sailors and Marines of the USS Mesa Verde and 26th MEU (SOC) Bravo Command Element to further strengthen relationships with our NATO Ally, as well as experience Riga’s rich culture.”

While in port, the 26th MEU (SOC) Bravo Command Element will begin to offload equipment and personnel in preparation for their participation exercise Northern Coasts 2023, a German-led multinational naval exercise series for NATO, EU and participating countries in the Baltic Sea region.

“The Marines and Sailors of the 26th MEU(SOC) Bravo Command are excited to be here in Latvia as well as demonstrate our warfighting proficiency and competency during Northern Coasts 2023,” said Lt. Col. Josef Wiese, executive officer, 26 MEU(SOC), officer in charge of the Marines aboard the USS Mesa Verde. “The Marines and Sailors are looking forward to integrating and building trust with the German Sea Battalion on board as well as showcasing their interoperability and interdependence with our Allies and Partners in the Sixth Fleet area of responsibility.”

This year approximately 3,200 military members, 14 nations, 30 ships and submarines and up to 15 aircraft will participate in exercise Northern Coasts, strengthening the partnership and interoperability amongst Allies and partners.

The 26th MEU (SOC) serves as one of the United States’ premier crisis response forces capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response, and limited contingency operations, to include enabling the introduction of follow-on forces and designated special operations, in support of theater requirements of the Geographic Combatant Commander. Coupled with the USS Bataan ARG, the 26th MEU (SOC) serves as a premier stand-in force with a full complement of all-domain capabilities to operate persistently within the littorals or weapons engagement zones of an adversary.

The Bataan ARG and embarked 26th MEU (SOC), 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.

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (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.