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USS Carney Completes Third Forward-Deployed Patrol
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) returned to Naval Station Rota, Spain, Aug. 8, 2017, after completing its third forward-deployed patrol.
Carney departed Rota March 15, 2017, and operated throughout the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations during a nearly 5-month patrol. Carney is one of four forward-deployed destroyers in Rota.
The first phase of the patrol was spent in northern Europe participating in training exercises with the Royal Navy.
First was exercise Joint Warrior 2017, a semi-annual, U.K.-led multinational exercise designed and led by the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff and intended to improve interoperability between NATO and partner navies.
Following Joint Warrior was Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST).
FOST is a Royal Navy program that provides training across all disciplines for the United Kingdom and other nations that wish to partake in the training. Carney spent three weeks embarking the FOST team and U.S. Navy Afloat Training Group personnel and operating in and around Plymouth, United Kingdom, for daily exercises.
Many aboard the ship considered the time during FOST to be the most difficult of the patrol.
“We are a better ship because of FOST,” said Cmdr. Peter Halvorsen, commanding officer of Carney. “We prepared for this exercise for a long time. Our Royal Navy allies threw any number of scenarios at us and we found ourselves in situations that we’ve never been in before.”
What made FOST different from other exercises is that all mission areas were combined into one integrated exercise where all casualties have effects throughout the ship, as they would in a real battle. The FOST scenario affected everyone from the commanding officer down to the junior Sailors.
Damage Controlman Fireman Eric Leather reported to Carney in Sept. 2016, and the ship’s third forward-deployed patrol was his first ever. He was in a complete firefighting ensemble for six hours every day, but said he got a lot out of the training.
“As a damage controlman it was great all around training, ” said Leather. “It was a cascade of flooding, fires, and fuel leaks, all going at the same time. It was by no means easy, but it was worth every bit of the time and effort we put into it.”
During these intensive training exercises the crew still had to complete normal underway duties: maintenance, standing watch and completing inspections.
“The biggest struggle on this patrol has been being able to pass inspections at the same time as doing training,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate Jose Rangel. “We had a seamanship inspection during FOST, so balancing all these scenarios as well as passing the inspection was difficult but we persevered and ultimately succeeded.”
After FOST, Carney continued into the Baltic Sea to demonstrate the continued commitment to the collective security of NATO under Operation Atlantic Resolve.
During operations in the Atlantic and Baltic, Carney visited Faslane, Scotland; Plymouth, England; Kiel, Germany; and Amsterdam.
In Kiel, Carney hosted distinguished guests including members of the German Armed Forces and the U.S. Embassy during a reception aboard the ship.
Shawn Crowley, the Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, as well as members of the Dutch Parliament and armed forces, attended a reception while the ship was in Amsterdam.
“My favorite port by far was Amsterdam,” said Damage Controlman 1st Class Aaron Bean. “I loved the architecture and all the tours that I took of the city.”
In Amsterdam, Carney Sailors participated in two community relations (COMREL) projects organized by Lt. Jeremy Blythe, a Navy Chaplain assigned to commander, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic Ministry Center, in Norfolk. Blythe was embarked aboard Carney for the entire patrol.
For the first COMREL, Carney Sailors volunteered at an animal shelter. The second COMREL was held onboard the ship; Carney Sailors welcomed children from the Amsterdam Big Brother and Big Sister organization aboard for a tour.
“I was impressed with the enthusiasm the crew has for COMRELS,” said Blythe. More Sailors volunteered than there were spots available to participate.
“This is a tremendous crew. They’re some of the most resilient Sailors I’ve served with, which is a direct reflection upon the leadership,” said Blythe. “They reflected well on the country and on the Navy as they rolled-up their sleeves to serve along our host nations in port.”
Carney departed the Baltic, and after a brief stop off the coast of Plymouth for an additional FOST training day, headed south towards the Mediterranean Sea.
“Our time in northern Europe was strenuous, fun and overall fulfilling,” said Halvorsen. “The training we gained with our Royal Navy allies left us a better war-fighting ship.”
Once in the Mediterranean, Carney enjoyed a liberty port in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
Carney then returned to Rota, for an availability period June 12-24. After that, it was back to the patrol.
Carney transited the Strait of Gibraltar and headed east to conduct operations with the George H.W. Bush (GHWB) Carrier Strike Group in the eastern Mediterranean.
Halvorsen was impressed with how seamlessly his crew integrated with the strike group.
“We are normally an independent deployer here in the Mediterranean so the fact that we were able to join the George H. W. Bush strike group says an incredible amount about the professionalism of the crew,” said Halvorsen.
Carney was detached from the GHWB strike group and steered a course for the Black Sea. Carney arrived in Odessa, Ukraine, July 10, to participate in exercise Sea Breeze 2017.
Sea Breeze is a U.S. and Ukraine co-hosted multinational maritime exercise held in the Black Sea and is designed to enhance interoperability of participating nations and strengthen maritime security within the region.
While in port, Carney hosted many high profile visitors including: the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko; the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch; Ukrainian Minister of Defense, Stephan Poltorak; and Vice Adm. Christopher Grady, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet.
Underway, Sea Breeze focused on a wide range of disciplines including air defense, anti-submarine warfare and maneuvering exercises.
Carney’s visit, board, search and seizure team had the opportunity to receive training from naval special warfare operators.
“Sea Breeze was an extremely important exercise,” said Halvorsen. “We hosted many distinguished visitors and trained with many other allied nations both in Odessa and underway in the Black Sea. The crew performed phenomenally and we learned a lot about working with our allies in the region.”
Carney stopped briefly in Constanta, Romania, for fuel and then exited the Black Sea on July 24.
Once back in the Mediterranean, Carney completed the final event of its patrol: engineering certification.
Ensign Rob Geissinger, main propulsion assistant aboard Carney, likened the ship’s engineering certification to the World Series for engineering. Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Electrical) 1st Class Joshua Cochran compared it to the Super Bowl. Carney’s engineers had been preparing for this inspection since March 2016.
“As far as the engineering goes we had to balance all the tasking, missions, refueling - more than 2.3 million gallons over the patrol, maintenance and then meet objectives to execute safe and effective engineering drills and evolutions that prepared us for this,” said Geissinger.
Carney passed this inspection well above the standards set by the fleet.
“Our engineers work so hard and I couldn’t be more proud of them for that,” said Halvorsen. “Carney’s engineering spaces are the cleanest I’ve seen on any warship. Without them we can’t function. We would have no electricity, no propulsion, and no water. They have an extremely important job and they perform above what is expected of them.”
With engineering certification complete, Carney turned its bow towards home in Rota.
On Aug. 8, the Carney returned to Naval Station Rota. With their families waiting for them on the pier, the Sailors aboard Carney have successfully completed their third patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.