The huge U.S. Roll-on, Roll-off Carrier ARC Independence transporting military hardware docked on Sunday in Greece’s Alexandroupolis.
The carrier is transferring helicopters and military vehicles that would participate in the upcoming NATO exercise Atlantic Resolve.
Konstantinos Chatzimichail, Chairman of the Alexandroupolis Port Authority, welcomed the vessel in a series of tweets.
Ένα ακόμη εντυπωσιακό Ro-Ro Carrier των ΗΠΑ αφίχθη στον λιμένα της Αλεξανδρούπολης σε υποστήριξη της Atlantic Resolve! Καλώς όρισες ARC Independence!! 🇬🇷🇺🇸#AtlanticResolve #SecureEurope pic.twitter.com/See6i6JGow
— Konstantinos Chatzimichail (@chatzimichail_k) November 27, 2021
He also pictured the first helicopter brought to land.
First helo discharged!! #Alexandroupolis #AtlanticResolve #SecureEurope @USArmyEURAF @hqSDDC @1stCavalryDiv @1stAirCavBDE pic.twitter.com/L86qvJQ68J
— Konstantinos Chatzimichail (@chatzimichail_k) November 28, 2021
The carrier was built in 2007 in South Korea and is currently sailing under the U.S. flag. Formerly also known as “Faust, Faust” its gross tonnage is 72118 tons.
Over the next few days, more U.S. transport ships are expected at Alexandroupolis in preparation for the military exercise.
A large number of helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), tanks, cannons, and artillery are expected to reach the Greek port near the border with Turkey as part of an extensive military shipment that is of unprecedented scale.
Operation Atlantic Resolve which began in 2014 was in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine. The U.S. took several immediate steps to enhance the deterrence posture along the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), including augmenting the air, ground, and naval presence in the region, and enhancing previously scheduled exercises.
Alexandroupolis: A US and NATO military hub
Alexandroupolis has become a hub of American and NATO military operations in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Geoffrey Pyatt, the American ambassador to Greece, recently said that the port of Alexandroupolis has assumed strategic importance for the U.S.
“This was a region which, when I arrived in Greece in 2016, seemed somewhat forgotten. This is no longer the case. I am very proud of the partnerships we have built, not just with respect to military cooperation and security, which is exceptionally important, but also, for example, in energy, with the FSRU, the natural gas power station, the IGB and TAP pipelines,” Pyatt had said.
The U.S. has since committed to expanding its military operations in the port as envisaged by the recently signed bilateral Mutual Defense and Cooperation Agreement. Just a few miles away from the Turkish borders the upgrade of the previously quiet fishing port has annoyed Ankara.
Recently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his clear annoyance over the future deployment of US troops in Alexandroupolis.
Speaking to reporters on his return from the G20 summit in Rome, where he met with US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron, Erdogan said “we raised the issue to both Biden and Macron.”
“We said ‘what is the issue with Alexandroupoli? Establishing a base there bothers us and our people,’” he said.