Ships of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) transited the Suez Canal Oct. 2, which marked the beginning of their journey homeward.
Deployed since Feb. 8, the Bataan ARG/MEU comprises the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), and embarked Marines from the 22nd MEU. The Bataan ARG/MEU is specifically purposed to execute maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts to enhance regional security and stability.
While tasked to U.S. 5th Fleet, the Air Combat Element of the 22nd MEU executed strike missions against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq, and non-traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (NTISR) flights over Iraq and Syria. Additionally, the Bataan ARG/MEU successfully completed two rescues at sea, a number of support operations and participated in the first days of exercise Eager Lion. The ship also maintained a high state of readiness while at sea for up to 135 days between port visits.
As the Bataan ARG/MEU moves into the U.S. 6th Fleet AOR, the approximate 4,000 U.S. Sailors and Marines will continue to serve as a ready, agile, deployable force by supporting security cooperation efforts and maintaining its posture as a forward presence capable of contingency operations, crisis response, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief until its return to Norfolk, Virginia, in late October.
The Bataan ARG and 22nd MEU has been relieved by the Makin Island ARG and the 11th MEU in the 5th Fleet area of operation.
Press Release, October 06, 2014; Image: US Navy