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The maintenance availability periods, which included mid-deployment voyage repair (MDVR) evolutions, allow U.S. Navy ships to accomplish necessary and preventative repairs to continue their missions in the region while simultaneously strengthening relationships with host nations.
The geographic diversity of these maintenance periods underscores the strength of U.S. relationships with regional allies and partners. By facilitating berthing, logistics in repairs in their port cities, allied host nation afforded the ships and the ARG-MEU the chance to accomplish necessary repairs, participate in various bilateral training opportunities, and quickly return to overall mission readiness.
“The support and hospitality provided by the country teams in France, Croatia and Denmark were demonstrations of combined coordination and execution across allied nations,” said Capt. Aaron Kelley, Commander of the Kearsarge ARG and Amphibious Squadron SIX. “The time and effort prioritizing the ships’ maintenance and repairs simultaneously presented the ARG-MEU the opportunity to replenish supplies, train forces ashore, and enhance crew morale and rest. This postured the force’s overall readiness in preparation for our second half of deployment.”
Kearsarge was the first ship to begin her maintenance period. The ship pulled into Brest, France, June 30, 2022, with Arlington following with an arrival to Rijeka, Croatia, July 4, and Gunston Hall arriving to Copenhagen, Denmark, later in the month. While in port, maintenance and preservation were the top priority for the ARG ships. During the port visits, Marines assigned to the 22nd MEU focused on conducting training ashore such as bilateral physical training exercises and live fire exercises.
“During the course of the ARG-MEU’s MDVR periods, our fighting forces trained and integrated with our French, Croatian, and Danish counterparts; building vital relationships between us and our NATO allies,” said Col. Paul Merida, commanding officer of the 22nd MEU. “By continuing to operate forward with our allies and partners, we are building our combined capability and capacity to protect regional waters and commerce, and to preserve security in these regions.”
While completing maintenance and training, the ARG-MEU team also made it a point to foster positive and lasting relations with U.S. partners and allies in the region. During the visits, Kearsarge ARG-MEU leadership and crew conducted several engagements with foreign military and civilian officials to include ship visits, office calls, ceremony participation, community relations projects and key leader engagements to strengthen relationships across the region.
Once work was completed each day, Sailors and Marines across the ARG-MEU team also had the opportunity to go out and experience the local cities and rich culture France, Croatia, and Denmark had to offer.
In Brest, France, Kearsarge Sailors and Marines participated in an Independence Day ceremony where French Navy Sailors, Veterans and civilians stood side by side with Kearsarge ARG-MEU Sailors and Marines at the World War I Monument in the city of Brest. During the event, French civilian and military officials, as well as ARG-MEU leaders, laid a wreath to commemorate the achievements of the naval forces of the United States and France during the First World War. In Rijeka, Croatia, Arlington Sailors and embarked Marines participated in a community relations project where they volunteered to help beautify a local school, while Gunston Hall leadership hosted the U.S. Ambassador of Denmark, Alan Leventhal, and his staff for a ship tour in Copenhagen, Denmark.
While in Rijeka, Arlington Sailors and Marines participated in recreational activities through the ship’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) program including a tour of Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of the seven national parks in the country; a tour of Vrelo Cave and Lakeside Fuzine; and the opportunity to explore KRK Island and the Town of Moscience.
The MWR program in France offered Kearsarge Sailors and Marines an overnight trip to Paris, while some Sailors and Marines took a trip to Tivoli Gardens, the third-oldest operating amusement park in the world located in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The Kearsarge ARG and embarked 22nd MEU are under the command and control of Task Force 61/2. The ARG consists of USS Kearsarge; USS Arlington; and USS Gunston Hall. Embarked commands with the Kearsarge ARG include Amphibious Squadron SIX, 22nd MEU, Fleet Surgical Team 2, Fleet Surgical Team 4, Tactical Air Control Squadron 22, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, Assault Craft Unit 2, Assault Craft Unit 4, Naval Beach Group 2, and Beach Master Unit 2.
Amphibious ready groups and larger amphibious task forces provide military commanders a wide range of flexible capabilities including maritime security operations, expeditionary power projection, strike operations, forward naval presence, crisis response, sea control, deterrence, counter-terrorism, information operations, security cooperation and counter-proliferation, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with our Allies and Partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.
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