CARTAGENA, Spain --
The Marines and Sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), embarked on the USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), arrived in Cartagena, Spain, Oct. 4, 2023, to conduct Marine Air-Ground Task Force unit-level sustainment training and a bilateral training exercise to strengthen relations with a key NATO ally during a scheduled mid-deployment maintenance period for the USS Mesa Verde.
The maintenance period, termed a mid-deployment voyage repair (MDVR), allows the U.S. Marines and Sailors an opportunity to complete corrective and preventative maintenance actions that cannot be accomplished while at sea, in order to sustain operational capabilities and to continue operations in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility.
“The USS Mesa Verde and embarked 26MEU(SOC) are thankful to the city of Cartagena for welcoming us,” said Capt. Marc Davis, commanding officer of the USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19). “We are excited to visit one of the Spanish Navy’s largest bases and look forward to exploring its history during our maintenance period while we are in port.”
Prior to the execution of the MDVR, the 26MEU(SOC) will conduct integrated bilateral amphibious operations and unit-level training events designed to increase lethality and showcase interoperability with Spanish forces.
“The MDVR provides another opportunity to showcase the utility, relevance, and operational flexibility the 26MEU(SOC) provides a Geographic Combatant Commander and Fleet Commander,” said Lt. Col. Josef Wiese, Executive Officer, 26MEU(SOC). “The MDVR provides a unique opportunity to disembark the ship to conduct land-based operations with our partner forces, while also conducting necessary vehicle, equipment, and weapons maintenance to ensure we are ready to execute the rest of our scheduled deployment,” Wiese continued.
Since arriving in theater in July 2023, the USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) and 26MEU(SOC) Marines have participated in a wide array of exercises, operations, and port visits with partners and Allies throughout the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) area of operations.
The USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) and the 26MEU(SOC) has operated in Plymouth, United Kingdom; Narvik, Norway; Dublin, Ireland; and Riga, Latvia while participating in bilateral training events in Norway and the German-led multinational exercise, Northern Coasts 2023.
Many of these exercises and activities involved integrating multiple partner and allied militaries into the 26MEU(SOC) to include: Italian San Marco Brigade Marines, Norwegian Armed Force Soldiers, German Sea Battalion Soldiers, and Latvian National Guard members.
The 26MEU(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 26MEU(SOC) serves as a premier stand-in force with a full complement of all-domain operational capabilities to operate persistently within the littorals and/or the weapons engagement zones of an adversary. The 26MEU(SOC), embarked aboard the ships of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), serves as the Tri-Geographic Combatant Command Immediate Crisis Response Force within the Fifth and Sixth Fleet’s areas of operation.
The Bataan ARG and embarked forces of the 26MEU(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.