The ship’s presence in the High North is a demonstration of the U.S. Navy’s continued commitment to collective defense of the European region and reinforces the strong bond between the U.S. and Iceland.
“We have been very fortunate to be able to work with our NATO Allies and partners while conducing joint exercises here in the waters of Iceland,” said Capt. Eric Kellum, commanding officer of USS Arlington. “I am looking forward to furthering our strong relations while getting some good training as a team and for our troops to get to experience the beautiful country of Iceland first hand during our time here. We have been particularly fortunate to work with and learn from the Icelandic Coast Guard, local law enforcement and first responders and a contingency of U.K. Royal Marines during exercise Northern Viking. We have been able to conduct shared learning, strengthening our ability to work together and leverage each other’s strengths.”
While in Reykjavik, Arlington’s leadership will participate in ship visits and office calls with local and military leadership, while the crew partakes in several local tours and experiences the rich culture of Iceland and its citizens through visits to historical sites. Arlington’s chaplain, Lt. Paul Rockrohr, is also spearheading a community relations project to build strong connections with the local Icelandic community.
Arlington has been participating in Exercise Northern Viking 2022 (NV22) since arriving in the High North. British Royal Marines, attached to 42 Commando, embarked Arlington April 6 and trained with the 22nd MEU during the exercise, strengthening interoperability and force readiness between the U.S., Iceland and participating Allied nations.
Joint training conducted between allied forces during NV22 include at-sea casualty evacuation training; tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel; and visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) training.
The 22nd MEU and 42 Commando conducted a simulated raid in Whale Harbor, Iceland April 11 as part of a distinguished visitor day in which Vice Adm. Gene Black, commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet; Vice Adm. Daniel Dwyer, commander, Allied Joint Force Command-Norfolk; Major Gen. Francis Donovan, commanding general 2d Marine Division; and Icelandic dignitaries attended to highlight the 71 year defense relationship between Iceland and the U.S. after the 1951 Defense Agreement.
The Kearsarge ARG and embarked 22nd MEU are under the command and control of Task Force 61/2. The ARG consists of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), and San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington, homeported in the U.S. state of Virginia.
The ARG-MEU team recently departed homeports in Virginia and North Carolina, U.S. for a scheduled deployment in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations conducting global maritime operations and security in support of allied and partner interests in Europe and Africa.
Embarked commands with the Kearsarge ARG include Amphibious Squadron SIX, Fleet Surgical Team 2, Tactical Air Control Squadron 22, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, Assault Craft Unit 2, Assault Craft Unit 4, Naval Beach Group 2, Beach Master Unit 2 and the 22nd MEU.
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.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests, security, and stability in Europe and Africa.