By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amber Smalley
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) departed Palma de Mallorca, Spain, as part of a scheduled port visit, April 20, enhancing U.S.-Spanish relations as the two nations work together for a stable, secure and prosperous Europe.
The visit marked the first liberty port call for about 5,600 Abraham Lincoln Sailors since departing Norfolk, April 1, and the first visit of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier in Palma de Mallorca since the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) arrived in 2014.
“I enjoyed Palma as our first port,” said Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) 1st Class Addison Martinez. “It was amazing interacting with locals, and experiencing the architecture, culture, beaches and food.”
Strengthening alliances during port visits demonstrate the shared commitment to promote safety and stability within the region, while seeking opportunities to enhance our interoperability with our NATO allies, such as Spain.
Twenty Spanish distinguished visitors visited Abraham Lincoln to observe an air power show, meet the leadership and crew of the ship and learn how their allies operate while at sea.
“It’s a privilege and an honor to be hosted by Palma,” said Capt. Putnam H. Browne, the commanding officer of Abraham Lincoln. “We welcome any opportunity to give back to this beautiful country and fortify the relationship between two friendly allies. Strengthening these relationships is an important part of executing the Navy’s mission to ensure freedom of the seas.”
While anchored off the coast of the Balearic Island, Sailors provided guided tours to large groups of Spanish locals. During these tours, visitors got to walk the flight deck and get an up-close view of the Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornets. Over the course of four days, more than 1,000 locals visited the ship.
“Being able to share knowledge with our allies was an experience like no other,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Santiago Garciaduque. “It was amazing to see their excitement when they rode the aircraft elevator and the awe when answering all the questions.”
Led by the Abraham Lincoln command religious ministries department and Chief Logistics Specialist Hodewou Sokpoh, ten Sailors participated in a community service event, donating their time in support of local people in need. These Sailors sorted and shelved food at a food bank in Palma that provides assistance to approximately 600 families per day.
Sailors also participated in friendly games of soccer and basketball with Spanish friends, which strengthened relations through camaraderie and sportsmanship. The Spanish defeated the Sailors 7 to 3 in soccer and the Sailors defeated the Spanish 48 to 45 in basketball. Abraham Lincoln’s Chief Electrician’s Mate (Nuclear) Charles Clarke refereed both games.
“Playing with allies was fun with a lot of team building,” said Lt. Cmdr. Matuwo Olufokunb, Abraham Lincoln’s main propulsion assistant, who played in the soccer games. “It was a unique experience collaborating and building partnership with the Spanish, after the game we even swapped teams to integrate even more.”
While in Palma de Mallorca, Sailors immersed themselves in Spanish culture by participating in tours, interacting with Mallorcan locals, observing Spanish traditions and experiencing the island’s scenery and establishments.
“I was very excited to see the cathedrals, churches and processions during Holy Week to experience how other Catholics celebrate the holiday and their history behind the traditions,” said Martinez.
In Abraham Lincoln’s first port visit, both the Spanish and the U.S. Sailors gained new perspectives on allies, partnerships and respect for each other’s culture.
Abraham Lincoln is deployed as part of an ongoing rotation of forward-deployed forces in support of maritime security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet, U.S. 6th Fleet and U.S. 7th Fleet areas of operation. With Abraham Lincoln as the flagship, deployed strike group assets include staffs, ships and aircraft of Abraham Lincoln CSG, Destroyer Squadron 2, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7; as well as Alvaro de Bazan-class frigate ESPS Méndez Núñez (F 104).
Abraham Lincoln departed its homeport earlier this month to support maritime security operations along with other coalition maritime forces and is scheduled to travel around the world to execute a homeport shift from Norfolk to San Diego.