Four Additional Destroyers Join U.S. Sixth Fleet to Bolster NATO Presence
The current gathering in Sixth Fleet is the largest for the U.S. Navy since 2018.
The U.S. Navy has deployed four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in support of NATO operations in Europe.
“The U.S. Navy destroyers USS The Sullivans (DDG-68), USS Gonzalez (DDG-66), USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) and USS Mitscher (DDG-57) are operating in the European theater of operations,” U.S. Navy spokesman Cmdr. Arlo Abrahamson said in a statement. “Throughout their deployment, they will participate in a range of maritime activities in support of the U.S. Sixth Fleet and our NATO allies.”
The four warships left their homeports of Norfolk, Virginia, and Mayport, Florida in January. While the U.S. Navy announced that the deployments were not in response to any actions or any anticipated actions by Russia, the ships will operate as part of the Sixth Fleet, which is headquartered at Naval Support Activity Naples, Italy.
Abrahamson said that the deployments were designed to provide additional flexibility to the U.S. Sixth Fleet.
All four destroyers are configured for ballistic missile defense. They’ll join the U.S. Navy's four Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMD) destroyers that currently based in Rota, Spain including USS Ross (DDG-71), USS Roosevelt (DDG-80), USS Porter (DDG-78) and USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) as well as the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group operating in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Truman and its strike group departed Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, and Mayport, Florida for a regularly scheduled deployment on Dec. 1. Elements of the strike group, commanded by Rear Adm. Curt Renshaw, include Nimitz-class aircraft carrier flagship USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), the nine squadrons of Carrier Air Wing 1, staffs of Carrier Strike Group 8, and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG-56).
In addition, the carrier strike group includes the guided-missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 28 which includes USS Bainbridge (DDG-96), USS Cole (DDG-67), USS Gravely (DDG-107), and USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109). The Royal Norwegian Navy's frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310) is operating as part of the strike group throughout the entire deployment.
Truman and her escorts took part in the Mediterranean Sea exercise Neptune Strike 22 with NATO allies in late January and early February, concluding on Feb. 4. It involved maritime maneuvers, anti-submarine warfare training, and long-range strike training.
"It's designed to demonstrate NATO's ability to integrate the high-end maritime strike capabilities of an aircraft carrier strike group to support the deterrence and defense of the alliance," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in January.
The group also operated with the French Navy's flagship, aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91) and its escorts, which served to highlight NATO's resolve to maintain freedom of navigation in the neutral waters of the Mediterranean.
USNI News also reported that the composition of ships in Sixth Fleet is the largest gathering of U.S Navy vessels in the region since 2018.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.