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A Joint Task Force Lebanon MC-130P Combat Shadow refuels an MH-53M Pave Low helicopter over the Mediterranean Sea last month. Both aircraft belong to Air Force 352nd Special Operations Group, deployed from RAF Mildenhall, England.
A Joint Task Force Lebanon MC-130P Combat Shadow refuels an MH-53M Pave Low helicopter over the Mediterranean Sea last month. Both aircraft belong to Air Force 352nd Special Operations Group, deployed from RAF Mildenhall, England. (Dennis Brewer / Courtesy of U.S. Air Force)

The Norfolk, Va.-based amphibious assault ship USS Wasp arrived in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday, relieving the USS Mount Whitney as the command and control ship for support missions to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, according to a Navy news release.

The Wasp, which sailed without its normal Marine Expeditionary Unit, joins the guided-missile destroyer USS Barry, in the region since July, and the USNS Kanawha. The Navy also extended the deployment of a Florida-based cruiser, the USS Hue City.

The amphibious transport dock USS Trenton and High Speed Vessel Swift had been in the region, but no longer are part of the task force poised to respond to military or humanitarian contingencies, officials said.

Navy Capt. John Nowell, commander of Task Force Bravo, a maritime subtask force of the overall Joint Task Force Lebanon, now will control U.S. maritime assets from Wasp.

“As tactical commander — both from a command and control perspective, as well as being on the unit that can head to the beach if needed — it’s a great multipurpose platform,” he said in a statement about the Wasp.

The Mount Whitney, based in Gaeta, Italy, now will sail home.

Vice Adm. John “Boomer” Stufflebeem, commander of JTF Lebanon, earlier appointed Air Force Col. Brad Webb to command Task Force Alpha, the air and land components, and Nowell to lead Bravo, the maritime side of things.

U.S. European Command assumed control of missions and requirements from Central Command on Aug. 23.

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