The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), flagship of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) arrived in Gdynia and Gdansk, Poland respectively, for scheduled port visits, Sept. 14, 2022.
The port visits to Gdynia and Gdansk highlight the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps’ commitment to the Baltic region and strengthens relationships between the United States and Poland, a key NATO ally.
“The Kearsarge ARG-MEU appreciates the hospitality and generosity of our long-standing Polish allies,” said Capt. Aaron Kelley, commander of the Kearsarge ARG and embarked Amphibious Squadron SIX staff. “These port visits and engagement opportunities emphasize the importance of Allied and partnered maritime presence in the region as we work together as one cohesive force to maintain a safe and professional Baltic region.”
Prior to arriving in Gdansk and Gdynia, Kearsarge and Gunston Hall, along with San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24) and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117), participated in two training events in and around the Baltic Sea with the Swedish and Finnish Armed Forces as well as NATO Allied Maritime Command’s (MARCOM) Standing NATO Maritime Group (SNMG) 1. The training enhanced the ARG and embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit’s (MEU) ability to operate alongside allies and partners while demonstrating the strength of a cohesive NATO alliance.
“The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit is privileged to have the opportunity to visit the city of Gdynia, strengthening the bonds between the U.S. and the countries that call the Baltic Sea home,” said Col. Paul Merida, commanding officer of the 22nd MEU. “We are extremely grateful to our Polish hosts for their part in preserving the readiness and responsiveness of our units and personnel.”
Gdynia and Gdansk have seen multiple U.S. ship visits in recent months as the U.S. and Poland continue to strengthen their maritime relationship. USS Gravely (DDG 107) arrived in Gdynia, June 5, 2022, while Gdansk hosted USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 96) in March of this year. Prior to Forrest Sherman’s arrival in Gdansk, the ship sailed alongside USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), Polish Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate ORP General Kazimierz Pulaski (FFG 272) and Polish offshore patrol vessel ORP Slazak (241). Poland’s Ustka training range also served as a staging ground for rigorous amphibious landings during BALTOPS 22.
While in Gdynia and Gdansk, Kearsarge and Gunston Hall leadership will participate in key leader engagements to include an office call with the 3rd Ships Flotilla Commander. Sailors and Marines will also be given the opportunity to participate in several Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) events, familiarizing Sailors and Marines with the historical sites, culture, and citizens of Poland.
The Kearsarge ARG and embarked 22nd MEU, under the command and control of Task Force 61/2, consists of the flagship of the ARG, USS Kearsarge (LHD 3); the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Arlington (LPD 24); 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 28, Naval Beach Group 2, Assault Craft Unit 2, Assault Craft Unit 4, and Beach Master Unit 2.