AT SEA --
The USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), assigned to the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) Marines, hosted the Exercise Northern Coasts 2023 distinguished visitor day, Sept. 18 2023.
“Northern Coasts 2023 is a multinational exercise that allows us to train here in the Baltics, highlighting the capabilities we bring to the alliance and strengthening the relationship with our Allies and Partners in the Baltic Sea,” said Maj. Gen. Robert B. Sofge Jr., commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe and Africa.
This year, 14 countries and over 3000 naval and military personnel are participating in the exercise to include: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and United States.\
“This is one of two major exercises we do in the Baltics, more importantly, this exercise is led by the German Maritime Command, which is the first we have been able to participate in,” Sofge continued. “Additionally, Northern Coasts 2023 is the first time we have been able to conduct amphibious demonstrations and operations. The addition of the USS Mesa Verde and the ARG/MEU made a huge impact in this exercise, highlighting the capabilities of the MEU.”
Throughout the distinguished visitor day, guests had the opportunity to watch multiple naval demonstrations, showcasing the warfighting capabilities and lethality of the naval forces participating in Northern Coasts 2023. These demonstrations included a combined anti-submarine exercise with a German U-36 submarine, re-supply at sea, a simulated mine detonation and a steam pass, which consisted of each ship participating in the exercise, firing two rounds with their main gun on the port side as they passed USS Mesa Verde.
In between the demonstrations, guests had the opportunity to speak and interact with 26th MEU(SOC) Marines and their static displays. These Marines included representatives from Battalion Landing Team1/6 Weapons Company, Sniper Platoon, and Small Boat Detachment.
“I would like to thank the captain, crew, and the Marines aboard the USS Mesa Verde for a tremendous job in showcasing not only the U.S. capability, but the capabilities across the Baltic nations,” stated Sofge. “We have Swedes, Fins, Latvians and Lithuanians onboard, so there is a lot of Baltic country representation here and it is important to showcase the U.S. and its Allies exercising together,” Sofge continued.
The 26th MEU(SOC) serves as one of the United States’ premier crisis response forces capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response, and limited contingency operations, to include enabling the introduction of follow-on-forces and designated special operations, in support of theater requirements of the Geographic Combatant Commander. Coupled with the USS Bataan ARG, the 26th MEU(SOC) serves as a premier stand-in force with a full complement of all-domain capabilities to operate persistently within the littorals or weapons engagement zones of any adversary.
“It’s great to see the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps team continue to demonstrate the critical role of naval integration,” said Sofge. “Enabling NATO, and our Allies, showcases our cultural similarities, and our deep-rooted friendship.”
The Bataan ARG and embarked forces of the 26th MEU(SOC), under the tactical command and control of Task Force 61/2, is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., allied, and partner interests.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (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.