Thousands of Marines from Camp Lejeune, Cherry Point and New River are preparing to head to waters off Libya.
Nearly 2,200 Marines and sailors with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit are preparing the ships they will be deploying with during their mission to the Mediterranean Sea. The USS Bataan is currently docked at the Morehead City State Port.
The 22nd MEU will relieve the 26th MEU which has been involved with Libyan air strikes and with the rescue mission of a downed Air Force pilot last week.
Colonel Eric Steidl, commander of the 22nd MEU, would not say if they will have any missions in Libya but the colonel says the 22nd MEU has the ability to perform a wide variety of missions.
The 22nd MEU is deploying three months earlier than originally scheduled because the 26th MEU left North Carolina waters early to help with flood relief efforts in Pakistan.