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U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti Visits USS Oak Hill

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070226-06
Release Date: 2/26/2007 11:46:00 AM


By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Nathan Bailey and Ensign Dan Rogers, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet

USS OAK HILL, At Sea (NNS) -- Dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) hosted U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti W. Stuart Symington while underway Feb. 10 off the coast of Djibouti in northeast Africa.

Symington was joined by Rear Adm. Timothy Moon, deputy commander, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA); Col. Philippe Prevost, Commander, French ground forces, Djibouti; Cmdr. Gerhard Lintner, Commander, German naval detachment, Djibouti; Maj. Abdallah Youssouf, Djiboutian liaison to CJTF-HOA and numerous other coalition representatives to the Horn of Africa.

“Hosting the ambassador was an honor for Oak Hill,” said the ship’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Ray Stapf. “It provided us a rare opportunity to show the Ambassador what’s involved in the training, logistics, and integration of Sailors and Marines on an amphibious combat ship and what its like to serve at the tip of the spear.”

Embarked Assault Craft Unit (ACU) Det. 4 demonstrated the landing craft air cushion’s (LCAC) capabilities prior to their visit and then used it to bring the guests aboard Oak Hill.

The visit included a tour of the ship and lunch with Stapf, and Lt. Col. Christopher Arantz, the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) commander.

Symington then talked with Oak Hill Sailors and Marines of the embarked 26th MEU and witnessed their day-to-day routine aboard the vessel. He also received a briefing on the capabilities of the Bataan ESG.

“The visit allowed us to demonstrate the vital role the Marines play in fulfilling the goals of Oak Hill and the entire ESG,” said Arantz.

Symington said he was impressed with the Sailors and Marines he met.

“Oak Hill’s officers and crew are very important for security and stability in the region,” said Symington. “I have never seen a ship more ready for the mission.”

Oak Hill is currently deployed as part of the USS Bataan (LHD 5) Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), which is conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the 5th Fleet area of operations. MSO help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

Bataan ESG is comprised of the Bataan Strike Group (BSG), commanded by Commodore Donna Looney, Commander, Bataan Strike Group/Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 2 and the 26th MEU based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., commanded by Col. Gregg Sturdevant. BSG includes PHIBRON 2, Bataan, USS Shreveport (LPD 12), USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), USS Nitze (DDG 94), USS Underwood (FFG 36), USS Scranton (SSN 756) and Oak Hill.

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