USA: Kearsarge,Bataan ARG Complete Turnover


The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Group (MEU) relieved the Kearsarge ARG and 26th MEU of their duties in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) April 27.

The Bataan ARG has assumed responsibilities as Commander, Task Force 62 and will conduct maritime security operations and provide support as required for coalition forces assigned to Operation Unified Protector.

“I am proud of the great work the Sailors and Marines of the Kearsarge ARG/26th MEU team have done,” said Capt. Peter Pagano, commander, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 4. “Regardless of the mission they were assigned, they accomplished it with integrity, professionalism, and dedication.”

“This MEU has been in positions of tremendous responsibility and each time delivered nothing less than what they were asked to give,” said Col. Mark J. Desens, commanding officer 26th MEU. “I am very proud to have served with the Marines, Sailors and civilians of this MEU and our Navy-Marine Corps team. This deployment has been the highlight of my operational career.”

During the past eight months in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet AORs the Kearsarge ARG /26th MEU team conducted a wide range of missions, ranging from the delivery of over 3 million pounds of supplies to Pakistan after a devastating summer flood to the safe relocation of 335 displaced personnel from Tunisia to Egypt.

The Kearsarge ARG was actively involved in the initial phases of Operation Odyssey Dawn, with AV-8B Harriers assigned to 26th MEU flying multiple sorties in support of the no-fly zone established by United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973. As the mission transitioned to NATO-led Operation Unified Protector, Sailors and Marines remained on station and ready to render assistance.

The Kearsarge ARG and 26th MEU’s performance in the 5th and 6th Fleet AORs has been nothing short of outstanding,” said Capt. Steve Yoder, commander, Amphibious Squadron 6. “I have complete confidence that our Sailors and Marines assigned to the Bataan ARG and 22nd MEU will continue this tradition of excellence, and that they will remain vigilant, flexible, and ready to execute the full range of amphibious operations.”

The BATARG and 22nd MEU deployed three months ahead of their original schedule to relieve the Kearsarge ARG and 26th MEU. The blue-green team conducted a wide range of integrated training over the last several weeks to be able to arrive on station and immediately provide the combatant commander with a versatile sea-based force that can be tailored to a variety of missions.

“The Marines and Sailors of 22nd MEU have completed the turnover with 26th MEU and are prepared to execute operations in support of Operation Unified Protector and other missions that may be assigned,” said Col. Eric Steidl, commanding officer 22nd MEU. “As a Marine Air Ground Task Force, 22nd MEU is capable of responding to a wide array of contingencies ranging from humanitarian assistance to combat operations. As we wish our fellow warriors from 26th MEU farewell, we stand ready to assume the mission as an amphibious force in readiness.”

“We talk a lot on Bataan about being on time and ready for tasking,” said Capt. Steve Koehler, commanding officer of USS Bataan (LHD 5). “This ship’s job is to put the MEU and PHIBRON in a position to conduct the nation’s tasking. We are certainly ready for that and proud to have the watch here in the Mediterranean Sea.”

The Kearsarge ARG is led by commander, Amphibious Squadron 4, and is comprised of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), amphibious transport dock USS Ponce (LPD 15), and amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 51). Embarked detachments include Fleet Surgical Team 6, Tactical Air Control Squadron 21, Assault Craft Unit 4 and Beach Master Unit 2.

The Bataan ARG includes PHIBRON-6, with detachments from Naval Beach Group Two (CNBG) 2, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 21, Fleet Surgical Team Six (FST) 8, Helicopter Squadron Twenty Two (HSC) 28, Beach Master Unit (BMU) 2, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2 and ACU-4. ARG ships include the Norfolk-based Bataan, the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), and the dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), homeported at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek – Fort Story, Va.

The 22nd MEU is a Marine Air Ground Task Force comprised of the Command Element, Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, and Combat Logistics Battalion 22.

Source: navy, April 29, 2011;