Bataan ARG Returns to Norfolk after Nine-Month Deployment
More than 4,000 Sailors and Marines from the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) completed a nine-month deployment, returning to Naval Station Norfolk, Va. and Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va. Oct. 31, and Camp Lejeune, N.C. Oct. 28. While deployed, the Bataan ARG/MEU served in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility (AOR).
The ARG includes the flagship, the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) with embarked Assault Craft Unit 4 and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) with embarked Assault Craft Unit 4 (also embarked on Bataan), and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) with embarked Assault Craft Unit 2.
During the deployment, the Bataan ARG conducted maritime security operations, theater security cooperation and provided a forward naval presence in the U.S. Navy’s 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operation.
The ARG participated in several multinational exercises designed to strengthen coalition partnerships and reinforce regional security and stability, including Spanish Amphibious Exercise (PHIBLEX) 14 and Eager Lion 2014 exercise, as well as bi-lateral training with the Greek and French. The 22 MEU supported an assessment of humanitarian options in support of displaced Iraqi civilians trapped on Sinjar Mountain by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and conducted surveillance and reconnaissance missions and fixed-wing strike missions in Iraq in August and September with aircraft based aboard Bataan.
Bataan was also involved in two rescues at sea. On March 8, Bataan rescued two Turkish mariners from their sinking cargo ship in the Aegean Sea. On June 6, the ARG participated in the rescue 282 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea after their small vessel sank.
The Bataan ARG ships were the first to benefit from the Navy’s newly approved Hardship Duty Pay – Tempo (HDP-T). HDP-T, effective Sept. 17, compensates Sailors and Marines on deployments beyond 220 consecutive days.
The Makin Island ARG and 11th MEU relieved the Bataan ARG in the 5th Fleet AOR, October 2.
Press release, Image: US Navy