MEDITERRANEAN SEA –
Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) and U.S. Sixth Fleet (SIXTHFLT) concluded the NATO-led activity Neptune Strike 2022, Feb. 4.
The vigilance activity marked the accomplishment of the long-planned transfer of authority of command and control of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG) to the NATO Alliance.
The vigilance activity kicked off Jan. 24 from the Adriatic Sea, involving missions at sea and in the air across most of Europe, supporting both Allied Joint Force Command Naples and Brunssum. The nearly 2-week activity demonstrated NATO's ability to integrate the high-end maritime warfare capabilities of a carrier strike group to support the defense of the Alliance.
The Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe coordinated the activity, integrating NATO Allied Maritime Command and NATO Allied Air Command, while STRIKFORNATO executed command and control of Neptune Strike 22 from USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), the SIXTHFLT and Commander STRIKFORNATO’s flagship.
"The remarkable work accomplished by SIXTHFLT and STRIKFORNATO staffs highlights NATO’s ability to rapidly bring together high-end maritime combat power in support of the Alliance,” said Vice Adm. Gene Black, commander, SIXTHFLT and STRIKFORNATO. “We proved NATO is prepared to command allied carrier strike groups, and look forward to the next opportunity to test and advance our command and control structure.”
STRIKFORNATO led a maritime force composed of two carriers, 15 ships and approximately 90 aircraft, including forces from the Harry S. Truman CSG, the Italian Navy CAVOUR CSG, Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 and Mine Counter Measure Group 2. Overall, forces and personnel from 28 NATO countries participated in Neptune Strike.
"Neptune Strike 22 levered the combat power of a U.S. carrier strike group, promoted interoperability with Allies and allowed operators to train on NATO networks, train to NATO procedures and become familiar with operating in the European Theatre.” said Rear Adm. James Morley, STRIKFORNATO’s Deputy Commander. “These maritime Allied interoperability activities are the cornerstone of STRIKFORNATO.”
SIXTHFLT, 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.
STRIKFORNATO, headquartered in Oeiras, Portugal, is Supreme Allied Commander Europe's (SACEUR) premier, rapidly deployable and flexible, maritime power projection Headquarters, capable of planning and executing full spectrum joint maritime operations.