Four-thousand US sailors and marines from the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) have arrived in the Mediterranean Sea after transiting the Suez Canal, according to a release from the US navy.
The group, which is comprised of an amphibious assault ship, the USS Wasp (LHD 1), and an amphibious dock landing ship, the USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), rejoined the operations of the US 6th Fleet Thursday, according to Wasp ARG commander Captain F. Byron Ogden.
“After completing our time in 5th Fleet, the Wasp ARG will now be supporting the maritime security mission in the Mediterranean Sea. This sea lane is vital to our global economy, and it remains secure because of the strong relationships between the navies that operate together here,” Ogden said in the release.
The Wasp re-entered the US 6th fleet after spending more than three months supporting Operation Odyssey Lightning (OOL) with precision airstrikes from 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) aircraft in Sirte, Libya.
On its journey back to the 6th Fleet, it went through the 101-mile-long Suez Canal – often referred to as “the Ditch” by sailors – in 15 hours. The canal connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, allowing vessels to avoid the approximately 7,000 kilometer trip around the Cape of Good Hope, the southernmost point of Africa.
“Our security team was responsible for making sure that we had a safe transit so we can continue our mission in the Mediterranean. We’re fortunate because Wasp’s Security Department is augmented by the Marines, who have become a really cohesive part of our team. With both of us on the watch, we have a lot of defensive depth, which is essential during such a long transit,” Senior Chief Petty Officer Albert Spiess said.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, the US 6th Fleet “conducts the full spectrum of join and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners in order to advance US national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa,” according to the US Navy.
The Wasp’s arrival came just one day after Russia’s Vice-Admiral Kulakov destroyer completed its operations in the Mediterranean and entered the Atlantic. Several other Russian warships remain in the Mediterranean, including the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, Peter the Great battle cruiser, Admiral Grigorovich frigate, and Severomorsk destroyer.