USS Bataan Completes Three High-Level DV Tours in a Week
08 March 2023
NAVAL STATION NORFOLK, Va. --
After hosting three high-profile DV visits in five days during the week of Feb. 27, quarterdeck watch standers on USS Bataan (LHD 5) rang enough bells to make Quasimodo envious.
In all, 32 flag officers, a dozen captains and colonels, foreign ministers, members of parliament, and other distinguished visitors were belled on and off the Wasp-Class Amphibious Assault Ship.
The first DV visit on Feb. 28 was from a senior German Navy submarine delegation headed by Rear Adm. Sascha Rackwitz and was in fact a last-minute trip to Bataan because of inclement weather up north, and lots of it. Rackwitz and three other German submariners came to Norfolk as guests of U.S. Navy sub boss, Vice Adm. William Houston, to visit Submarine Force Atlantic headquarters along with bilateral discussions. The plan was to spend just the 27th visiting Norfolk and then fly to Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn. the next day to check out that base and continue talks between the allied submariners.
The problem was Groton-New London Airport expected six inches of inclement weather to accumulate overnight along with a likely minimum two-hour delay for sub base personnel. Snowed in like Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in December, a Day 2 skeleton itinerary in Norfolk was quickly drafted. The only thing needed was a ship to visit. Despite a massive load of pre-deployment tasks to complete, Bataan answered the call.
Aboard LHD-5, Rackwitz and the other German officers were squired about the deckplates by Bataan’s triad – Commanding Officer Capt. Paul Burkhart, Executive Officer Capt. Trace Head, and Command Master Chief Jay Westmoreland. Bataan Senior Medical Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Cesar Mojica, and Mini Boss, Lt. Cmdr. Chase Davies also added color along the hour-long tour that took the German guests to the well deck, hangar bay, ship's medical spaces, flight deck, bridge, primary flight control, and debark control.
“It was a good visit,” said Head. “It was great in that it allowed us to showcase the capabilities that Bataan and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit will bring to the fight during our upcoming 2023 deployment.”
For Head and his Bataan DV warfare compatriots, there would be plenty more showcasing ahead. In terms of current world events, the next two visits were very significant, if not important.
The March 2 visit featured leading members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Military Committee (NATO MC) to include Adm. Rob Bauer, a career Dutch naval officer serving as Chair of NATO MC. Vice Adm. Daniel Dwyer, Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet and Commander, Joint Forces Command Norfolk, brought aboard Bauer and 35 high-ranking leaders all the way from Brussels representing all 30 NATO nations. The generals and admirals on hand were themselves NATO MC chiefs of defence. Present also were senior enlisted as well as civilians – all occupying critical positions within NATO’s military strategy decision-making body at a critical juncture in the alliance’s 73-year history.
This time Capt. Thomas Myers, Commodore, Amphibious Squadron EIGHT, joined and helped provide insight for the visitors along a tour route that included stops at the flight deck, medical ward, flag plot, the Landing Force Operations Center, upper and lower vehicle stowage areas, well deck spaces, and the Combat Information Center (CIC) where a command operational video was shown. There were also two briefs by Bataan personnel. The first discussed amphibious assault ship (LHD) flight deck capabilities and the other brief was given by Mojica in the medical ward and focused on the ship’s medical abilities.
Less than 24 hours after the NATO military guests left, Bataan was back at it for the week’s final DV visit. This time accompanying Dwyer aboard Bataan were eight of the 16 Norwegian parliamentary members who comprise the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence.
Norway’s official parliamentary website states the Foreign Affairs and Defence committee is responsible for “matters relating to foreign affairs; military defence; development cooperation; Norwegian interests on Svalbard or in other polar regions; and matters in general relating to agreements between Norway and other states or international organizations.”
As a committed ally, partner, and friend to the United States with deep historical ties and shared values, the U.S. relationship with Norway is expressed through our bilateral partnership as well as through regional alliances and multifaceted government organizations. Norway is NATO’s ‘eyes and ears’ in the Arctic and as the United States continues to address the increasing maritime aggression from our adversaries in the North Atlantic and throughout the global commons, the Norwegian people remain vital partners for solving global security and peace.