UPINNIEMI, FINLAND --
The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Finnish Navy conclude a 10-day exercise in Finland on Aug. 18, 2022. The exercise included simulated island seizures, a force-on-force raid, Explosive Ordnance and Engineer live-fire ranges, and medical evacuation training.
Exercise KLAARA provided an opportunity for U.S. forces to work jointly alongside future allies in a dynamic environment throughout small island chains and constricted maritime terrain. This not only allowed Marines to practice their skills, but showed how partners navigate and operate throughout challenging waters.
The Finnish Navy provided the Jehu-class landing craft during the exercise to facilitate the expedited movement of U.S. and Finnish troops to maintain a minimal footprint in the area. The craft is designed for archipelagic, coastal and offshore areas and can hold up to 26 passengers and two to five crewmembers.
“The Jehu U-700 craft offered the Marines a unique opportunity to traverse through the constricted maritime terrain of the Finnish archipelago,” said the 22nd MEU Commanding Officer Col. Paul Merida. “Its ability to move the combat power of roughly a platoon reduced of Marines with a small physical signature is vital to operating within the coastlines and creates an operational advantage for Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations.”
EABO is a form of warfare in which forces are intentionally low-signature, mobile and easily sustainable from austere, temporary locations. The purpose is to conduct sea denial, support sea control and enable fleet sustainment ashore and inshore within a contested or potentially contested maritime area.
“Its ability to move the combat power of roughly a platoon reduced of Marines with a small physical signature is vital to operating within the coastlines and creates an operational advantage...” Col. Paul Merida, 22nd MEU Commanding Officer
The U700s became assets during the exercise due to its ability to providing strategic advantage and extra tactical benefits. “It was incredible,” said Sgt. Idan Urrutia, a machine gunner with Battalion Landing Team 2/6, who rode on the U700s throughout the exercise and during the force-on-force raid. “On the inside they have screens, so while you’re in there you can still have a general idea of where you are going.”
U.S. Navy Lt. Lindsay Murphy, a medical officer attached to the 22nd MEU, toured the boats during the exercise. Murphy said she was thoroughly impressed by the capabilities of the vessel due to its casualty evacuation abilities. “It has integrated litter sanctions that give it the ability to transfer 12 littered patients, which is the same as our MV-22,” Murphy explained. “Its maneuverability is second to none, and it offers the ability to interface with any of our blue-water or brown-water platforms.”
During the bilateral exercise, the U700 was able to conduct well-deck operations aboard the Whitby Island-class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall. This showcases that the vessel is capable of ship-to-shore operations and its ability to integrate with U.S. Naval vessels.
“The ability to safely load partner landing craft in the well deck of U.S. Navy amphibious ships only increases the interoperability and flexibility of our combined forces.” said Col. Paul Merida.