The U.S. Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), flagship of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and embarked Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), departed the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations, Nov. 25, 2018.
While in U.S. 6th Fleet, Iwo Jima participated in Trident Juncture 18, a NATO-led exercise designed to certify NATO response forces and develop interoperability among participating NATO ally and partner nations. The exercise ensured that NATO forces are trained and able to operate together and are ready to respond to any threat from any direction.
“This was an outstanding experience for the Navy and Marine Corps team onboard,” said Capt. Joseph O’Brien, Iwo Jima’s commanding officer. “Interacting with our allies in this type of exercise is something that does not occur very often. With all the moving pieces involved, it took the efforts of everyone onboard to successfully complete our mission during the exercise and showcase the strength that is the NATO alliance.”
The ship also conducted port visits to Reykjavik, Iceland, along with Oslo and Trondheim, Norway, where the crew participated in several community relations projects and experienced the cities’ culture, food and historical sites. The ship also hosted ship tours and a reception which brought aboard more than 1,500 visitors, including the Prime Minister and Crown Prince of Norway, the U.S. Ambassador to Norway and the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.
The Iwo Jima ARG embarks the 24th MEU and is comprised of Iwo Jima, the Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), Fleet Surgical Team 6, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22, components of Naval Beach Group 2 and the embarked staffs of Expeditionary Strike Group 2 and Amphibious Squadron 8.