Elements from the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed this week.
The Kearsarge ARG, which includes the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge, amphibious transport dock ship Arlington and dock landing ship Gunston Hall, completed its composite training unit exercise in early February under NATO command and control.
The Navy said the training included testing the transfer of command authority between a Navy numbered fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO. The drill marked the first time an amphibious ready group and Marine expeditionary unit completed training under NATO control, the Navy said.
“During the course of a comprehensive six month training program, the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit have built a closely integrated and well-trained naval expeditionary force,” said Col. Paul Merida, commanding officer of the 22nd MEU, in a Navy news release. “We stand ready for any mission or challenge that comes our way.”
The Kearsarge, the Arlington and the 22nd MEU departed Norfolk, Virginia, and Camp Lejeune, North, Carolina, Wednesday. The Gunston Hall is poised to join the rest of the amphibious ready group later this month.
The Navy did not specify where they are headed, but noted that it is a routine deployment meant to provide increased theater operations for an array of military missions.
Commands embarked with the amphibious ready group include Amphibious Squadron 6, Fleet Surgical Team 2, Tactical Air Control Squadron 22, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, Assault Craft Unit 2, Assault Craft Unit 4, Naval Beach Group 2 and Beach Master Unit 2.
Last April, the Kearsarge’s emergency diesel generator encountered a mechanical failure while the ship was underway in the Virginia Capes for basic phase sea trials, Navy Times previously reported.
The Class A mishap, which involves damages of at least $2.5 million or a fatality or permanent total disability, did not result in any injuries. The emergency diesel generator was significantly damaged and needed replacement.
The Kearsarge ARG wrapped up its last deployment in 2019, and included landing platform dock Arlington and the dock landing ship Fort McHenry. The deployment was atypical in that the three ships frequently operated independently under separate combatant commanders.