Tensions in Europe are at a high, and a U.S. presence on the continent reinforces the United States’ support of European democracies.
The USS Kearsarge, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, recently arrived at Brest, France to undergo maintenance and to reinforce and strengthen military-to-military relations with the United States’ oldest ally. The deployment underscores the United States’ commitment to Europe at a time of drastically heightened tensions.
The maintenance, part of what the U.S. Navy explained is a mid-deployment voyage repair, “allows the ship to complete corrective and preventative maintenance that cannot be done while at sea,” a statement noted. It added that “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 mid-deployment voyage repair is our time to reset the force,” said Col. Paul Merida, the commanding officer of the 22nd MEU. “We see the MDVR as an opportunity to get off the ship and train whenever possible, conduct vehicle, equipment and weapons maintenance, ensure that our gear and property is accounted for as well as improving administrative, medical and dental readiness.”
“Ideally, the MDVR also offers a chance for the Marines to get some time off-shore to reflect on the history of the region while building an appreciation for the local population and French culture.”
The USS Kearsarge’s visit to France comes at a time of high tensions in Europe. With the war still raging in Ukraine, many European countries and NATO allies have placed a renewed focus on military preparedness. Defense budgets in European capitals, long deflated since the Cold War, have increased to meet the threat Russia poses to the European continent.
The warship’s visit comes on the heels of a raft of port visits in Norway, Sweden, and Estonia, as well as training exercises BALTOPS 22, Hedgehog 22, and NEPTUNE 22, a NATO vigilance activity. Ships like the USS Kearsarge afford military commanders a range of capabilities, including expeditionary power projection, forward naval presence, strike capabilities, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief.
“Kearsarge is thankful to the French Navy and the city of Brest for welcoming us,” said Capt. Tom Foster, the commanding officer of USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). “We are at the mid-point of our deployment and will execute much needed repairs, upkeep and re-supply while in port. We appreciate the cooperative relationships between our two countries as we work together to provide support to our NATO allies and partners, and ensure peace in the region.”
Caleb Larson is a multimedia journalist and defense writer with the National Interest. A graduate of UCLA, he also holds a Master of Public Policy and lives in Berlin. He covers the intersection of conflict, security, and technology, focusing on American foreign policy, European security, and German society for both print and radio. Follow him on Twitter @calebmlarson.
Image: Flickr/U.S. Navy.