USS Whidbey Island transits Suez, enters Red Sea

U.S. Navy’s amphibious dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), with embarked U.S. Marines of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), transited the Suez Canal and entered the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations on August 7.

Navigating the 120-mile-long canal is no easy task, requiring hours of diligent planning, according to Lt. j.g. Jacqueline Brecklin, Whidbey Island’s navigator.

“The Suez Canal is navigationally and operationally a huge undertaking, and truly an all-hands evolution,” said Brecklin. “Much of our crew was at full power for 15 or more hours. With the dedication of Supply Department feeding us, Deck Department driving us, Navigation Department guiding us, SCAT (small-caliber attack team) protecting us, we had a smooth and safe transit through this unique passage.”

The ship’s security forces shoulder a lot of responsibility during strait transits, safeguarding the sailors and marines aboard.

“We rely heavily on our SCAT team, along with our embarked Marines, to provide a 360-degree security blanket,” said Chief Master-at-Arms Joshua Amaral, gun liaison officer aboard Whidbey Island.

The Suez Canal is a man-made waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea and is one of the world’s busiest shipping channels. It is the only water route from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean without traveling south around the continent of Africa.

While in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, Whidbey Island will be supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.