USS Bataan Sailors, 22nd MEU Marines Start Preparations for Upcoming Deployment
More than 1,300 Marines of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and almost 1,000 Sailors from USS Bataan (LHD 5) departed Norfolk Sept. 20, 2013 to begin PHIBRON-MEU Integration (PMINT) off the coast of eastern North Carolina.
The PMINT exercise allowed the Sailors and Marines to work with each other to begin forming a “blue-green” team in preparation for the Bataan Amphibious Readiness Group to deploy in early 2014.
“PMINT allows Sailors and Marines to demonstrate the high level of versatility the Navy and Marine Corps team generates within our amphibious fleet” said Bataan’s Commanding Officer, Capt. George Vassilakis.
PMINT began during the week of Sept. 16-20 when more than 1,000 Marines assigned to the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) began moving equipment aboard Bataan in Norfolk in preparation for the first underway period in a series of exercises. Bataan’s Combat Cargo department supervised the movement dozens of cargo boxes from the pier to the hangar bay to support the Marines land, sea and air operations.
“This is our first chance to work aboard ship with the Navy,” said Maj. Steve Gaugler, 22nd MEU future operations officer and native of Allentown, Pa. “We’re learning a lot of basic shipboard operations, to include loading the ship, living aboard the ship and conducting flight operations on the ship.”
The 22nd MEU consists of land, sea and air operations that allow Bataan to conduct amphibious operations and project power ashore. Even though seasoned veterans comprise most of the MEU, for many of the Marines it is their first time to be on a ship and live in such close quarters.
“It’s really not that bad, you just have to stay busy,” said Lance Cpl. Jonathan Stapley, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (Reinforced) 263, 22nd MEU, ground support equipment mechanic and native of Carey, Ohio. “They’re tight quarters, but it could be worse. Working on the equipment is a little more hectic now, with all the rocking. That takes some getting used to.”
The exercise also allowed Bataan and its crew an opportunity to remain proficient in flight operations, well deck operations, ballasting, and numerous deck operations to ensure Bataan’s success.
“I’ve been impressed these past last two weeks watching our blue-green team come together,” said Vassilakis. “These Sailors and Marines prove everyday they represent our nations’ finest. I look forward to continuing through our workups and ultimately, our upcoming deployment.”
Press Release, October 03, 2013