NAPLES, Italy –
In recent weeks, personnel assigned to U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet’s (NAVEUR-NAVAF-SIXTHFLT) Commander, Task Force 68 and Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Detachment (Det.) Rota (CTG 68.3) have participated in exercises and operations throughout Europe.
Exercises such as Joint Warrior and Dynamic Mariner 21 off the coast of Scotland, REP(MUS) 21 in Portugal, and Northern Coast 2021 in waters around Sweden, have given the units opportunities to strengthen relationships and improve interoperability with a wide array of allies and partners.
Aerographer’s Mate 1st Class Joshua Greer spearheaded U.S. Sixth Fleet’s involvement in Northern Coast 2021. He saw the exercise as a great opportunity for units such as SIXTHFLT MCM Det. Rota, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) Det. 8 from Rota and EODMU Det. 11 from San Diego to work with Swedish and German Navies.
“During Northern Coast 2021, SIXTHFLT MCM Det. Rota worked directly with the Swedish and German Navies as well as U.S. sailors from EODMU Det. 8 and EODMU Det. 11,” said Greer. “[This] allowed the U.S. to demonstrate our unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) capabilities while collaborating with EOD divers for a full detect-to-engage sequence.”
The versatility and capability that CTF 68 provides allows the Task Force to operate UUVs in support of mine hunting and terrain mapping, enables command of the allied vessels of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group ONE and enhances U.S. and allies’ ability to navigate freely in European waterways.
The Task Force also works closely alongside counterparts in other Task Forces to support experimentation and innovation, as they did during REP(MUS) 21. During the Portuguese-led exercise, they embarked aboard USNS Carson City (T-EPF-7) to operate UUVs in support of exercise objectives.
In addition to multiple allied and partner exercises, CTF 68 and their attached Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) and Underwater Construction Team (UCT) personnel frequently assist in construction and repair of infrastructure throughout Europe and Africa, enhancing access, presence and power projection in the region. NMCB personnel have recently operated in Ukraine, Croatia, Tunisia, Israel, and Morocco, working with host nation counterparts to build infrastructure that supports combined exercise and operational requirements.
"Seabees operate in austere locations throughout the NAVEUR-NAVAF area of responsibility, helping bridge the sea to land interface with our allies and partners," said CWO4 Chris Vollmer, NAVEUR-NAVAF-SIXTHFLT engineer engagement officer. "These projects serve multiple purposes, as they provide us the ability to hone our skills in an expeditionary setting and allow us to build relationships with military counterparts and the civilian populace. This work is very rewarding for the Seabees and ensures stability in the region."
Established March 17, 2005, CTF 68 commands all Navy Expeditionary Forces in U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of responsibility and is responsible for providing EOD operations, naval construction, expeditionary security, and theater security efforts in order to conduct Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations and Point and Area Defense to protect and defend critical infrastructure and High Value Assets against terrorist attacks in direct support of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa and U.S. Sixth Fleet.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.