By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Josue Escobosa
The Abraham Lincoln and John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Groups (CSG) completed carrier strike force operations in the Mediterranean Sea on April 25, 2019.
Consisting of air, surface and anti-submarine warfare operations in international waters and airspace, the carrier strike force operation uniquely enhanced the collective capability of the U.S. 6th Fleet to conduct multilateral, realistic training events. Operations included a pre-planned, long range target strike demonstration and formation steaming. The carrier strike operations of the two CSGs combined 10 ships, approximately 130 aircraft and 9,000 personnel.
Leading during formation steaming was the Álvaro de Bazán-class Spanish navy frigate ESPS Méndez Núñez (F 104), a multi-capable ship with anti-aircraft and surface strike capabilities. Méndez Núñez is operating with the Abraham Lincoln CSG on a cooperative, around-the-world deployment.
“We have to operate together, we have to practice together, we have to get through the tactical level details,” said Capt. Sean R. Anderson, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 2. “We depend on each other so that combined, we have the right scale of forces to deter and defeat potential adversaries.”
By conducting and participating in multi-national naval operations, the two navies can increase warfighting capabilities and interoperability.
“This cooperative deployment highlights the close relationships between our navies, our armed forces and our countries,” said Spanish Cmdr. Antonio González del Tánago, Méndez Núñez commanding officer. “United States and Spain share core values like democracy, freedom and rule of law. Both navies consider maritime security and naval operations as enablers of freedom of navigation and trade, key aspects to promote global peace, welfare and stability.”
Méndez Núñez’ integration into the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group began six months ago and was recently highlighted by providing anti-aircraft capabilities and high value unit protection of the strike group’s carrier assets. Méndez Núñez’ place within the Abraham Lincoln CSG underscores the value of increasing coalition operations between strike groups and partner navies.
“Working in any joint environment can be challenging, especially with different countries, but we’ve worked very hard to integrate ourselves with the U.S. Navy’s language, tactics and capabilities,” said Spanish Lt. Juan Chicharro, Méndez Núñez liaison naval officer. “We’re very proud to work with the Abraham Lincoln and this strike group. We’re going to learn a lot during this deployment, but we are also going to show our partners that our frigate, comprised of 215 proud men and women, is a valuable asset to the strike group.”
Over the course of their cooperative deployment, the Spanish and American navies have developed a deep respect for each other’s competencies, according to Anderson.
“From my perspective, Méndez Núñez is a group of superstars,” said Anderson. “With every mission we’ve conducted, they have demonstrated incredible competence and professionalism. They are representing their navy and our strike group really well.”
During deployment, the Abraham Lincoln CSG and Méndez Núñez will work with a number of regional allies at sea, creating opportunities for high-end maritime integration and maritime security operations in a variety of challenging environments while improving joint interoperability and expertise. Spanish-U.S. engagements include more than 70 annual exercises, port visits, and operations.
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, U.S. 6th and U.S. 7th Fleet areas of operation. With Abraham Lincoln as the flagship, deployed strike group assets include staffs, ships and aircraft of Carrier Strike Group 12, Destroyer Squadron 2, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7; as well as Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate ESPS Méndez Núñez (F 104).