MANAMA, Bahrain --
The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) hosted a delegation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including the U.S. ambassador, at sea Sept. 13 for a day-long embark. The embark was an opportunity for the delegation to meet Sailors and Marines deployed to the region and to better understand their capabilities.
U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the honorable Michael Ratney, and other guests, observed flight operations from Vulture's Row; headed below decks to the Hangar Bay to talk with subject matter experts about Marine Corps aviation capabilities; visited the well deck for a walk-through of a landing craft, utility (LCU); and paid a visit to the ship's medical facilities.
He said the visit gave him a new appreciation for the forces working every day to maintain regional stability and the free flow of commerce in these vital waterways.
“It was an absolute honor for me to spend time with the Sailors and Marines of USS Bataan and the 26th MEU,” he said. “Walking the deck and meeting these incredible young men and women reassures me that the commitment to regional security is one our Navy and Marine Corps take seriously.”
USS Bataan and the dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) arrived in the Middle East Aug. 6. Bataan ARG/26th MEU units bring to the region additional aviation and naval assets, as well as more U.S. Marines and Sailors, providing greater flexibility and maritime capability to U.S. 5th Fleet.
An amphibious assault ship can carry more than two dozen rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft, including MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and AV-8B Harrier attack jets in addition to several amphibious landing craft. A dock landing ship also supports operations for various rotary-wing aircraft, tactical vehicles and amphibious landing craft.
The Bataan ARG departed Norfolk, Virginia, on July 10 with Amphibious Squadron 8, Fleet Surgical Team 8, Tactical Air Control Squadron 21, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 26, Assault Craft Unit 4, Beach Master Unit 2 and the 26th MEU.
The 26th MEU, based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, is capable of conducting amphibious missions, crisis response and limited contingency operations to include enabling the introduction of follow-on forces and designated special operations.
The U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations encompasses approximately 2.5 million square miles of water space and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Suez Canal and Strait of Bab al-Mandeb.