Arabian Gulf - The Secretary of Defense ordered the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Aug. 30, to remain in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) until the beginning of October.

This represents a 21 day extension to the ARG/MEU's deployment schedule. Bataan ARG includes USS Bataan (LHD 5), USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), and USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44).

The Bataan ARG and 22nd MEU are being extended to assure a continuous ARG/MEU physical presence in the Arabian Gulf and uninterrupted support for potential tasking. This extension provides time for USS Bataan's relief, USS Makin Island and the embarked 11th MEU, to arrive on station for a "face-to-face" turnover before Bataan departs for her homeport of Norfolk, Virginia.

The Bataan ARG/22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit entered the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR March 13.

The U.S. 5th Fleet AOR encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water area and includes the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, North Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea. The expanse comprises 20 countries and includes three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb at the southern tip of Yemen.

The BATARG is commanded by Capt. Neil A. Karnes, commodore, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) Six, and comprises the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5), amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), and amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44).

USS Bataan (LHD 5), commanded by Capt. George Vassilakis, left her homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, Feb. 8, on a regularly-scheduled deployment as the flagship of the Bataan Amphibious Readiness Group.

The 22nd MEU is commanded by Col. William R. Dunn and comprises a ground combat element, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment; aviation combat element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 263 (Reinforced); logistics combat element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; and its command element.

The 22nd MEU's Air Combat Element has been flying non-traditional Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (NTISR) missions from USS Bataan over Iraq using its AV-8B Harrier aircraft since Aug. 8.

Bataan conducted two rescues at sea. On March 8th, Bataan rescued two Turkish mariners from their sinking cargo ship in the Aegean Sea. More recently, on June 6th, Bataan rescued 282 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea after their small vessel sank. For both rescues, Bataan brought stranded mariners and civilians aboard the ship, provided medical attention, food, water and temporary shelter.

Since deploying in February, the ship's crew has operated in several locations in the 5th Fleet and 6th Fleet regions. The ship's tasking includes providing the regional combatant commander with a versatile sea-based, expeditionary force that can be tailored to a variety of missions, including quick reaction crisis response options in maritime, littoral and inland environments in support of the nation's maritime strategy.