The U.S. Navy’s Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) and embarked Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) departed the Black Sea, March 22, after participating in Romanian-led amphibious exercise Spring Storm 2018, and a port visit to Batumi, Georgia.
Oak Hill entered the Black Sea to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to the collective defense of our NATO allies and partners. This naval operation is in support of our NATO allies in Eastern Europe and falls under Operation Atlantic Resolve.
“The USS Oak Hill and embarked elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit were very fortunate to conduct a series of exercises and a port visit which builds on the U.S. 6th Fleet security cooperation plan with our Black Sea allies and partners. Our visit not only benefited our host nations, but provided our Sailors and Marines a unique opportunity to train with and learn from our friends in this important part of the maritime commons”, said Capt. Brian Finman, Deputy Commodore of Amphibious Ready Group 4.
Oak Hill visited the port city of Batumi, Georgia March 17-20, building on a foundation of mutual respect and the concept of strength through friendship with our Georgian partners.
From March 8-15, Oak Hill and the embarked members of the 26th MEU took part in the second iteration of the amphibious assault exercise, Spring Storm, with Romanian NATO partners.
Oak Hill, home ported in Little Creek, Virginia, and part of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG), along with embarked Marines from the 26th MEU, entered the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations on Feb. 26, 2018, and are conducting naval operations with allies and partners to advance security and stability in the European region.
Iwo Jima ARG is composed of Commander Amphibious Squadron (COMPHIBRON) 4, amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), and Oak Hill.
The 26th MEU, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, is comprised of a Command Element (CE), the Ground Combat Element (GCE), the Aviation Combat Element (ACE), and the Logistics Combat Element (LCE).
The ship’s operations in the Black Sea are meant to enhance maritime security and stability, as well as the combined naval capability and capacity among our allies and partners.
The U.S. Navy routinely operates in the Black Sea consistent with the Montreux Convention and international law.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.
Ensign Cody L. Keim