The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24), attached to the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), arrived in Stockholm, Sweden for a scheduled port visit, August 5, 2022. Arlington, with embarked elements of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), is operating in the Baltic Sea to strengthen relationships with NATO allies and partners while conducting combined training and theater-security cooperation engagements. This marks Arlington’s first time operating in the Baltic Sea since departing on deployment earlier this year, as well as the first time the ARG-MEU has fully aggregated in the Baltic. Arlington entered the Baltic Sea after months of operations throughout European and African waters, including one bilateral exercise and three multinational exercises, as well as four scheduled port visits in Greece, Turkey, Tunisia and Croatia. These exercises included Alexander the Great with Greece, EFES with Turkey, and African Lion on the northern coast of Africa. The ship completed a mid-deployment voyage repair in July in Rijeka, Croatia.
“This is the first opportunity that the Marines on the Arlington have visited the Baltic. “We look forward to enjoying the same hospitality our fellow Marines on the other ships enjoyed previously in the deployment. Sweden is a critical partner, and this is a great opportunity for the Marines to experience some of its rich culture before we resume training with our allies and partners in the region,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Myette, executive officer of the 22nd MEU embarked aboard Arlington.
“We look forward to re-aggregating as a three-ship ARG-MEU team while operating in the Baltics. The Sailors and Marines are especially excited to visit Sweden as our first port visit in the Baltics, as we are committed to our NATO allies and partners in the region,” said Capt. Eric Kellum, commanding officer of Arlington.
While in Sweden, Arlington Sailors and Marines will explore the historically and culturally significant city of Stockholm, learning its culture through Stockholm Old Town Walk and Stockholm’s Must Sees tours. The crew will also be able to participate in a Stockholm Craft Beer and Swedish Pop Wonders tour. The Kearsarge ARG and embarked 22nd MEU are under the command and control of Task Force 61/2. In addition to Arlington, the ARG consists of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44). As Arlington docks in Stockholm, Kearsarge is conducting a visit to Helsinki, Finland, and Gunston Hall calls on Tallinn, Estonia. These port visits demonstrate the United States’ commitment to working with key NATO allied and partner nations to preserve security and stability in the Baltic Sea region. Embarked commands with the Kearsarge ARG include Amphibious Squadron SIX, 22nd MEU, Fleet Surgical Team 2, Fleet Surgical Team 4, Tactical Air Control Squadron 22, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, Assault Craft Unit 2, Assault Craft Unit 4, Naval Beach Group 2, and Beach Master Unit 2.
Amphibious ready groups and larger amphibious task forces provide military commanders a wide range of flexible capabilities including maritime security operations, expeditionary power projection, strike operations, forward naval presence, crisis response, sea control, deterrence, counter-terrorism, information operations, security cooperation and counter-proliferation, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with our Allies and Partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability. 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.