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U.S. Marines extend capabilities of USS San Antonio

US Marine Corps News

By 2nd Lt. Gerard R. Farao | May 26, 2013

USS SAN ANTONIO, At sea -- U.S. Marines have been at sea since 1775, and the U.S. Navy has been landing Marine forces ashore since the Battle of Nassau when a battalion of Marines led by Capt. Samuel Nicholas landed on the shores of New Providence in the Bahamas, March 3, 1776, during the Revolutionary War.

Today, Marines no longer land battalions on foreign shores using wooden row boats from wooden ships, but through the use of helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft; landing craft, air cushion and landing craft utility vessels; and amphibious assault vehicles off a variety of amphibious ships.

The newest of these ships is the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock (LPD). The first in its class, the USS San Antonio, or LPD 17, is home to more than 500 Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit: Company L and Kilo Battery assigned to Battalion Landing Team 3/2, Combat Logistics Battalion 26, and a CH-53E Super Stallion detachment assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266 (Reinforced).

“The MEU has a well balanced air-ground-logistics team on the San Antonio that can function independently or as a part of the larger amphibious ready group. It’s a tremendous capability that offers impressive flexibility to the MEU commander,” said Lt. Col. Kevin G. Collins, a South Lyon, Mich., native; commanding officer of CLB 26, 26th MEU; and commander of troops aboard the USS San Antonio. “From the San Antonio, we have the capability to conduct a wide range of missions, we have the capability to not only conduct combat operations but also to perform tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, purify water, provide refueling points, explosive ordnance disposal, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, support non-combatant evacuation operations, and aid in mass casualty situations among many other things.”

"Working as a team with the Marines of the 26th MEU, we significantly increase the capabilities we are able to provide decision makers," said Cmdr. Neil Koprowski, a Selden, N.Y., native and commanding officer of the USS San Antonio. "We are able to position ourselves over the horizon near areas of instability, where we will be able to most efficiently project power ashore when needed."

“We are a team and we support each other. The Marine Corps has been on Navy ships since our inception, and our presence on ships today is a continuation of that naval tradition that made the Marine Corps what it is – from storming the beaches of New Providence, to Iwo Jima, to Inchon, and to us, today, being stationed on ships across the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group located throughout the 5th Fleet area of responsibility ready to respond wherever and whenever a crisis may arise,” said Collins.

The 26th MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force forward-deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility aboard the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group serving as a sea-based, expeditionary crisis response force capable of conducting amphibious operations across the full range of military operations.

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