Marines and USS Wasp undergoing final adjustments before deployment

Marines and USS Wasp undergoing final adjustments before deployment

Marines at Camp Lejeune are guarding one of the headquarters buildings. For three weeks, the building will mimic a U.S. embassy and will be manned by State Department employees.

Wasp Amphibious Ready Group and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit are in their final week of training. A mock evacuation from the embassy takes place as 150 actors portraying protesters shout and throw tennis balls at Marines.

“This gives us an opportunity to practice what we can most expect,” said Lt. Col. Adam Coker, Marine Corps executive officer. “So NEO, non-combatant evacuation operations, embassy reinforcements, foreign humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, we’ve done all of that here.”

Marines patrol the beach at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  April 17, 2024.Steve Walsh

The USS Wasp’s marine landing craft arrived at Onslow Beach with a cargo of food, trucks, and other supplies. Major Mark Moore is in charge of the 24th MEU’s beaches. He said he was closely monitoring the conflict between Israel, Hamas and Iran.

“We watch the news. We also receive intelligence updates. We are prepared to respond to any crisis.”

This is the last exercise before sailors and Marines deploy. It’s been nearly a month since the USS Bataan and her Marines arrived in her hometown of Norfolk from the Eastern Mediterranean.

The amphibious readiness group remains scheduled to depart for the Mediterranean in May. Marines at Camp Lejeune said the Pentagon had not changed the Wasp’s scheduled departure time, even after drone and missile attacks by Iran followed by attacks by Israel.

Chief of Naval Operations Lisa Franchetti announced last week that the Wasp could be delayed due to mechanical issues plaguing amphibious warships.

The USS Boxer was delayed for several months in San Diego and had to return from deployment after 10 days due to mechanical failure.

Wasp also returned to port due to mechanical problems during an earlier exercise.

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