The US Navy forces involved in the operation to seize Misrata come under the spotlight as part of the ongoing HRI investigation into the cluster bombing of Misrata.
The main ships involved from the United States Navy – ie “supporting Operation Unified Protector, off the coast of Libya” on the 14th and 15th April are attached to the Kearsarge Amphibious Group – Kearsarge (LHD-3) itself was in port in Augusta Bay, Sicily during the nights on which Misrata was cluster bombed.
The first ship is the USS Barry (DG-52) which is a destroyer and probably the destroyer spotted by CJ Chivers off the coast of Misrata.
Here is USS Barry earlier in the Libyan operation firing Tomahawk missiles into Libya:
Interestingly, the commanding Officer of USS Barry used to be Admiral James G Stavridis, the Admiral who is particularly keen on information wars and controlling the internet.
USS Barry participated in an exercise (FLEETEX 2-94) which involved covert SEAL team extraction in shallow water off the Carolina coast. USS Barry is based at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, also the base of Eva H. Thompson – the commander of Special Warfare Unit Four, who we have quoted before, praising the usefulness of the Combat Boat 90 and AMOS system.
The second ship of interest is the USS Ponce (LPD-15), an Austin-class amphibious transport dock. An amphibious transport dock is a warship that embarks, transports and lands elements of a landing force for expeditionary warfare missions. This ship had something of the order of 851 enlisted servicemen and 72 officers on board.
Interestingly shortly after the Misrata operation, both the skipper and executive officer of USS Ponce, Commander Etta Jones and Lt. Cmdr. Kurt Boenisch, were relieved of their commands.
The third ship, of interest, is the USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) which is a dock landing ship and travelled through the Suez canal to join the others on April 13th, the day before the cluster bombing of Misrata. A dock landing ship is a form of amphibious warship designed to support amphibious operations. These amphibious assault ships transport and launch amphibious craft and vehicles with their crews and embarked personnel. usually these forces would be marines and/or special forces.
Embarked on these ships were certain units, including the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (26MEU) and Naval Beach Group Two (NBG2), TACRON 21, Four and Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron TWO TWO (HSC-22). The commander of the task force was Captain Dan Shaffer – who doubled up as Commander Task Force 65 (CTF-65) and Commander Destroyer Squadron 60 (DESRON60). He is under the command of Admiral Stavridis.