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Naval Special Warfare Interoperates with USS John P. Murtha in Bering Sea

by Lt.j.g. Martin Carey, Naval Special Warfare Group TWO
08 September 2023 East Coast based Naval Special Warfare Operators (SEALs) seamlessly integrated with USS John P. Murtha (LPD 26) during Operation Polar Dagger, in the Alaskan Arctic region, demonstrating special operations forces capability to operate in austere locations to defend critical infrastructure and strengthen interoperability in the region.

Operation Polar Dagger demonstrates the United States' continued commitment to maintain mission readiness in various environments and to preserve capacity for follow-on operations. The integration of SEALs with Murtha, a San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, underscored the flexibility and adaptability of the U.S. military in responding to the evolving strategic environment.

"Integrating U.S. Navy SEALs with the USS John P. Murtha during Operation Polar Dagger further prepares our forces to operate effectively in the extreme environment of the high-north – while contributing to our national security objectives," said Naval Special Warfare Group 2 Commodore Capt. Bill Gallagher. “Naval Special Warfare’s ability to operate with fleet assets provides combatant commanders greater flexibility in deploying forces to counter emerging challenges in the region.”

The Murtha's advanced capabilities and cutting-edge technology played a pivotal role in the successful deployment of SEALs and combat craft assault boats. Equipped with state-of-the-art command and control systems, the vessel offers unparalleled flexibility in orchestrating amphibious operations. Its well deck and specialized equipment facilitate swift and seamless launch and recovery of NSW assets, enabling precision missions even in challenging environments like the Arctic. This integration not only showcases the synergy between modern fleet assets and elite special forces but also underscores the U.S. Navy's commitment to maintaining a technologically advanced and adaptable fleet.

“Amphibious transport dock ships, such as ours, have many unique capabilities that make them ideal platforms to support special operations forces,” said Capt. Doug Langenberg, commanding officer of USS John P. Murtha. “The amphibious Navy’s participation in Operation Polar Dagger in the High North allows us to test new capabilities and advance response options, giving our joint force an asymmetric advantage over our competitors in a maritime environment.”

During the operation, the SEALs deployed from the well deck of the Murtha in combatant craft assault boats in the Bering Sea, navigated to a remote island, conducted an over-the-beach patrol, and exfiltrated via helicopter. The joint operation underscored the strategic importance of the Arctic region, while also highlighting the United States' commitment to employing a multi-faceted approach to homeland defense.

Naval Special Warfare Group TWO produces, supports, and deploys the world’s premier maritime special operations forces to conduct full-spectrum operations and integrated deterrence in support of U.S. national objectives. For more information, visit