The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) and embarked Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in Rijeka, Croatia, July 4, 2022, to complete a scheduled maintenance availability and to strengthen relations with a key NATO ally.
The maintenance period, termed a mid-deployment voyage repair (MDVR), allows the ship to complete corrective and preventative maintenance that cannot be accomplished while at sea. This necessary work allows the ship and her crew to continue their mission in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe (NAVEUR) area of operations. The ability to conduct the MDVR in Croatia provides a wealth of benefits to the ship and crew.
“Croatia is an incredible ally and such a beautiful country with a long, fascinating history and culture,” said Capt. Eric Kellum, Arlington’s commanding officer. "Conducting our mid-deployment voyage repair provides an excellent opportunity to conduct a deliberate reset and refresh on our equipment and for the Sailors and Marines. Our ability to work maintenance and resupply overseas with trusted allies and partners enables our sustained global presence."
The ship’s arrival to Rijeka comes after nearly four months of deployment to the NAVEUR area of operations. Throughout their time in the region, the ship’s crew and embarked Marines have participated in a variety of exercises and operations with allies and partners. These exercises have taken the ship up north to Iceland for exercise Northern Viking, throughout the Mediterranean in support of exercises Alexander the Great and EFES with Greece and Turkey, respectively, and off the coast of Tunisia in North Africa for exercise African Lion.
"This deployment has been an incredible experience. We have successfully completed four major exercises with over 30 NATO allies and partners,” said Kellum. “The Navy-Marine Corps team has conducted themselves with precision and excellence on time, every time!"
Sailors and Marines aboard Arlington will also have the opportunity to participate in recreational activities in Rijeka and surrounding areas to include: a tour of Plitvice Lakes National Park, a chance to explore KRK Island and Town of Moscience & Charming Opaija, a tour of Vrelo Cave and Lakeside Fuzine, and a tour of Pula and Rovinj, Croatia. Throughout their time in port, Sailors and Marines will have the opportunity to reinforce interpersonal bonds between the United States and Croatia.
The Kearsarge ARG and embarked 22nd MEU are under the command and control of Task Force 61/2. The ARG consists of Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3); Arlington; and the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44).
Embarked commands with the Kearsarge ARG include Amphibious Squadron SIX, 22nd MEU, Fleet Surgical Team 2, Fleet Surgical Team 4, Tactical Air Control Squadron 22, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, Assault Craft Unit 2, Assault Craft Unit 4, Naval Beach Group 2, and Beach Master Unit 2.
Amphibious ready groups and larger amphibious task forces provide military commanders a wide range of flexible capabilities including maritime security operations, expeditionary power projection, strike operations, forward naval presence, crisis response, sea control, deterrence, counter-terrorism, information operations, security cooperation and counter-proliferation, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with our Allies and Partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, 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.