Marines' Norway Deployment, Training Missions Delayed by Hurricane Florence

Marines with Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune help push a car out of a flooded area during Hurricane Florence, on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Sept. 15, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Isaiah Gomez)
Marines with Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune help push a car out of a flooded area during Hurricane Florence, on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Sept. 15, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Isaiah Gomez)

Marine units scheduled to deploy from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, or train in other areas affected by last week's deadly hurricane will have to wait until next month as some roads leading on and off base remain impassable.

Members of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, who were scheduled to head to Norway this month, will remain at Lejeune for now, Maj. Gen. David Furness, commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, said this week. Similarly, members of 1/6, who just returned from Norway, will see their leave extended following their six-month deployment.

"Until at least 1 October, we're kind of holding in place," Furness told All Marine Radio on Tuesday. "We've got two battalions who just got back on post-deployment leave, and we told them 'don't come back.' "

An advance party from 1/6 has returned to the U.S., but most of that unit remains in Europe, he said. Similarly, 3/8 sent its advance party to Norway, but the rest of the unit is still at Lejeune.

"All that is frozen," he added.

That's partly because the conditions in some areas leading onto and off the base remain unsafe, with downed trees, power lines or floodwaters preventing passage. Marine Corps aircraft are also tied up with relief missions, Furness said, or were moved out of the storm's path before it hit last week.

Units scheduled to complete major exercises have also had their plans derailed by the storm. Marines with 2nd Tank Battalion were in the process of completing gunnery qualifications at Fort Pickett in Virginia before Florence. Most of those Marines were sent back to North Carolina ahead of the hurricane so they could reunite with their families.

Now, Furness said, they'll have to see if scheduling will allow them to complete those qualifications. If other troops are slated to hit those ranges next month, 2nd Tanks will have to make other arrangements, he said.

The division was also in the process of shipping gear to Norway for Trident Juncture, a massive NATO exercise scheduled for this fall. Furness said he believes the vehicles and command-and-control containers made it onto the ship before it left the pier. But it must account for some of the other gear the crew didn't have time to load onto the ship before it left.

"Next week or the week after that, we'll try to account for that," he said. "We'll figure out if it's still on the pier and -- if didn't get washed away -- how to get it to Norway in time for the exercise."

For now, the Marines who remained at Lejeune are assessing any damage to their facilities and equipment, he said. They're also helping remove trees and other debris left by the storm.

As of Tuesday, power was still being restored to some sections of base housing. Electricity in the barracks is working, Furness said.

Families have been invited to eat at the chow halls on base, although the commissary and some restaurants had reopened by Wednesday. Dry goods, meat, eggs and water were available immediately at the commissary. Produce and milk are on the way, according to a base Facebook post.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ginaaharkins.

Show Full Article