Iwo Jima ESG ships enter European waters ahead of NATO drill Trident Juncture

Ships assigned to the US Navy’s Iwo Jima expeditionary strike group (IWOESG) have entered the US 6th Fleet area of operations as part of a deployment in support of NATO exercise Trident Juncture 18.

The strike group will join the Harry S. Truman carrier strike group and US 6th Fleet flagship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) to comprise the US ship support to the exercise.

“We are excited to participate in Trident Juncture 18, which demonstrates the capabilities of a multinational amphibious force,” said Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, Rear Adm. Brad Skillman. “Conducting an exercise of this scope provides the opportunity to improve interoperability, not only among the amphibious force, but NATO as a whole.”

Trident Juncture 18 is designed to ensure NATO forces are trained, able to operate together and ready to respond to any threat from any direction. With 31 allies and partners participating, it will be one of NATO’s largest exercises in recent years.

Amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) and amphibious transport dock USS New York (LPD 21) departed from the east coast of the United States, Oct. 2-3. The nearly 2,000 Marines with a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF), built around the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit command element from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, are also embarked on the ships.

Photo: US Navy file photo of USS Iwo Jima underway in April 2018

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