By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Raymond Minami, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs
MEDITERRANEAN SEA (NNS) — Amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), flagship of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and embarked Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), departed the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations, March 23.
While in the U.S. 6th Fleet, Bataan provided a forward naval presence while supporting an integrated Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) with Spanish forces.
PHIBLEX allowed for integrated forces to exercise their amphibious assault capabilities and enhance interoperability while improving readiness and strengthening relations between U.S. and Spanish forces.
“During our support of amphibious operations with our Spanish counterparts, the Navy and Marine Corps team worked vigorously to integrate, train, and form a comprehensive strategy to intensify the effectiveness of our bilateral team,” said Bataan Commanding Officer Capt. Eric N. Pfister.
Bataan conducted port visits to Naval Station Rota, Spain, March 12 to receive supplies and conduct a refueling, and Valencia, Spain, March 17 to participate in local cultural tours of the area organized by the ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation program.
The Bataan ARG/24th MEU is deployed as part of a regular rotation of forces to support maritime security operations, provide crisis response capability, and increase theater security cooperation while providing a forward naval presence in the U.S. 5th and U.S. 6th Fleet areas of operation.
The Bataan ARG is comprised of Amphibious Squadron 8, Bataan, amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), the 24th MEU, as well as supporting elements from Assault Craft Unit 4, Beach Master Unit 2, Fleet Surgical Team 6, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26, and Tactical Air Control Squadron 21.