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The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BATARG), comprising Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), and Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) successfully integrated with the 26th Marine Expeditionary (MEU) and Amphibious Squadron 8 (PHIBRON 8) during the PHIBRON-MEU Integration (PMINT) exercise, Jan. 23 to Feb. 5, 2023.
During the nearly two-week underway the group successfully completed multiple visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) raids, on-shore and off-shore missions, flight operations, simulated strait transits, live fire exercises, and other full mission profiles integrating Navy and Marine efforts to display the BATARG’s capabilities as a lethal expeditionary strike force ready to respond at all times.
The purpose of PMINT is to introduce and integrate the 26 MEU aboard the BATARG, fully incorporating each unit’s capabilities in creating a lethal, ready, and responsive Navy-Marine expeditionary force. PMINT also brings together PHIBRON 8 staff with their Marine counterparts to strengthen partnership, interoperability, and interdependence within the ARG/MEU for future missions.
The BATARG 26 MEU planned, briefed, rehearsals, and deliberately completed multiple missions to include a visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) raids, ship-to-shore movements, flight operations, defense to the amphibious task force during simulated strait transits, live fire exercises, and other full mission profiles integrating Navy and Marine efforts to display the BATARG MEU’s capabilities as a lethal expeditionary crisis response force ready to respond at a moment’s notice.
“The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit stands as a forceful and flexible forward presence that’s ready to respond to a wide variety of military operations across the globe,” said Capt. Thomas E Myers, commodore, PHIBRON 8. “With PMINT, we’re working to bring together our Navy and Marine forces, logistics, and weapons so the BATARG and 26 MEU can respond to any situation, whether on land, in the air, or sea. It’s an honor and a pleasure to be leading almost 1800 Sailors and Marines. At the end of this, we’re looking to be more interoperable, lethal, and capable to carry out the nation’s business.”
"I'm proud of this Team's performance across the board. We were able to build proficiency in ship-to-shore movements, accomplish initial deck landing qualifications for several pilots and aircrew, achieve C5I capabilities while demonstrating competency in our ability to C2 from the sea, and demonstrated proficiency in the rapid response planning process,” said Col. Dennis Sampson, commanding ffficer, 26th MEU. “More so, PMINT provided us with another opportunity to showcase the relevance and operational capability of the ARG/MEU team as an inside force during several full mission profile events like Maritime Interdiction Operations and Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (MIO/VBSS), Defense Of The Amphibious Task Force (DATF), a limited scale raid, and an amphibious assault that has set conditions for the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) to transition ashore for our follow-on MEU exercise."
The Wasp class multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD5) led many of the ARG/MEU missions, including a combined ARG/MEU forces raid on Onslow Beach, with supporting forces landing on the beach almost 30 times over the duration of PMINT. The Bataan also conducted multiple electronic warfare training drills and tests throughout the underway, while receiving MH-60 Sierra helicopters, AV-8B Harriers, MV-22 Ospreys, AH-1Z Cobras and UH-1Y Huey aircraft travelling in between land and deck throughout PMINT.
During PMINT, USS Carter Hall completed almost 70 hours of Deck Landing Qualifications (DLQ) with 26 MEU Aviation Combat Element aircraft and 16 landing craft air cushioned (LCAC) surface launches and recoveries in support of 26 MEU’s ship-to-shore movement.
“The Marines bring additional capabilities to incorporate into the Defense of the Amphibious Task Force (DATF) and increase USS Carter Hall’s ability to defend against the adversary,” said Cmdr. Brad A. Fancher, commanding officer, USS Carter Hall. “As the Maritime Interdiction Operations Commander (MIOC), we were also able to test the command and control shift from MIOC to the 26 MEU’s Maritime Special Purpose Force in the conduct of visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations. We learned a lot from this two-week training period with the Marines and look forward to our upcoming integrated certification exercises.”
26 MEU was the first east coast MEU to embark a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) aboard the USS Mesa Verde, positioning the MEU as a highly lethal and precise tactical force aboard the BATARG. The USS Mesa Verde was also the site for multiple Marine ship-to-shore movements and VBSS mission, solidifying processes including detainee processing and mass casualty drills, augmenting with Fleet Surgical Team SIX (FST-6) personnel.
“The ARG/MEU team is one of the most important elements of national defense because of the size and flexibility inherent to the team, but also to the wide range of operations that the organization can cover,” said Capt. Gregory E. Baker, commanding officer, USS Mesa Verde. “Upon formation, the Blue-Green team stands ready to do the Nation's bidding, which can range from kinetics to humanitarian assistance. PMINT is an opportunity to test both plans and ideas for an upcoming deployment. Fundamentally, it is the time for disparate organizations to form into one cohesive team spread across three ships.”
PHIBRON 8 is based in Norfolk, VA. and 26 MEU is located in Camp Lejeune, N.C. The BATARG is ported at Naval Station Norfolk, VA. The BATARG comprises Wasp class multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), San Antonio class amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD19), and Harpers Ferry class dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50).
For more information concerning PHIBRON 8, please contact PHIBRON 8 Public Affairs Officer, Ens. Susanna J Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org.