USS Oak Hill exits Black Sea after Romania drill, Georgia port visit

US Navy’s Harpers-Ferry class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) and the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) wrapped up their 15-day stay in the Black Sea, transiting the Bosphorus to return to the Mediterranean Sea on March 22.

During their time in the Black Sea, US Navy sailors and marines worked with their counterparts during a week-long exercise in Capu Midia, Romania, and a four-day visit to Batumi, Georgia,

The series of training events that were part of Romanian-led exercise Spring Storm 2018 (SS18) kicked off March 8 with the aim of increasing interoperability between Romanian and US forces.

“The sailors and marines of Oak Hill were honored to be selected to participate in an exercise of this magnitude and importance with our Romanian allies in the Black Sea,” said Cmdr. Philip Knight, commanding officer of Oak Hill.

The 307th Romanian Naval Infantry integrated with Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 26th MEU, to enhance U.S.-Romanian combat proficiency and strengthen the interoperability of maritime forces. SS18 was an opportunity for both forces to develop procedures and proficiently execute any level of warfare.

“This exercise proves, year-by-year, that we must continue these exercises to further increase interoperability,” said Romanian Navy Capt. Auras-Liviu Coman. “Both sides have proved their success in the ability to operate together in a complex manner.”

Exercises such as amphibious assaults, multilateral mortar training, squad ranges and medical casualty evacuation drills provided professional development for U.S. Sailors and Marines, and Romanian troops, reinforcing existing relationships.

After concluding Spring Storm 2018, USS Oak Hill arrived in Batumi, Georgia, on March 17 for a scheduled port visit.

USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) is currently on a six-month deployment to Europe as part of the Iwo Jima amphibious readiness group (ARG), along with embarked Marines from the 26th MEU.

The group entered the US 6th Fleet area of operations on Feb. 26, 2018, and are conducting naval operations with allies and partners to advance security and stability in the European region.

Iwo Jima ARG is composed of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), and Oak Hill.