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.
Additionally, aircraft embarked aboard Bataan, including MV-22B Ospreys from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 365 (Reinforced) and MH-60S Seahawks from the U.S. 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 NATO allies represent another demonstration of U.S. Navy steadfast and mutual commitment to ensuring a free and peaceful Europe. 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.
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. The officially stated mission of the Sixth Fleet in 2011 is that it “conducts the full range of Maritime Operations and Theater Security Cooperation missions, in concert with coalition, joint, interagency, and other parties, in order to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa.” The current commander of the Sixth Fleet is Vice Admiral Lisa M. Franchetti. The Sixth Fleet was established in February 1950 by redesignation of the former Sixth Task Fleet.