TRONDHEIM, NORWAY (NNS) -- USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), a Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship homeported in Mayport, Fla., is underway Mar. 3 participating in Exercise Cold Response 2016.
Cold Response is a biennial Norwegian exercise featuring maritime, land and air operations to underscore NATO's ability to defend against any threat in any environment. The location in central Norway provides a unique, extreme cold-weather environment for all forces involved to develop tactics, techniques and procedures, and learn from one another.
Exercise Cold Response 2016 will improve future capabilities between NATO allies and partners, and creates a foundation for future cooperation. The exercise enables the NATO alliance to demonstrate its commitment to its collective defense under the North Atlantic Treaty, and its ability to counter transnational threats.
The exercise composition includes more than 3,000 U.S. service members, approximately 6,500 members of the Norwegian Armed Forces and nearly 6,500 troops from 10 allied and partner nations including the United Kingdom and Germany.
Marines attached to 2nd Assault Amphibious Battalion, embarked with Fort McHenry, recovered gear stowed in caves in Verdal, Norway to be used in the exercise. The gear stowed in Verdal is part of the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program, under which Marines store and maintain gear in strategic locations all over the world to be recovered during combat operations. Marines have not recovered gear from the location in Verdal for more than 14 years.
As the exercise continues, more than 300 Marines from 2nd Assault Amphibious Battalion and troops from partner countries will conduct two amphibious assaults over the course of the week, where they will storm the beach and take up positions overnight.
Fort McHenry will be the only U.S. Navy vessel participating in this operation, providing support for U.S. Marines as well as Navy construction battalion units.
For more news from Expeditionary Strike Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/esg2/.