By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kristina Young, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Public Affairs
The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (ABECSG) is participating in exercise Mare Aperto, an Italian multilateral maritime warfare exercise designed to promote interoperability and proficiency, April 29-May 10, 2019.
The exercise improves combined combat capability, increases operational capacity, and strengthens relationships among participants across platforms and services.
“Mare Aperto is a training exercise centered around the Italian naval forces,” said Capt. William Reed, commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7. “We are providing several F/A-18 sorties to help train in defense and counter air protection for high-value units. We also are participating in command and control pieces of Mare Aperto. This helps us to strengthen our relationship with the Italian naval force as allies and partners.”
Multiple surface, subsurface, and air platforms are showcasing their naval powers and agility in the exercise, both in open sea and shallow water environments.
“In our dynamic, rapidly-changing world, the need for partners and allies is absolutely critical,” said Reed. “There are strengths that the Italians possess that really help enhance our ability to execute our missions. It also creates more stability as we work together, and our partnership grows stronger.”
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), a part of the ABECSG, is also providing direct support to Mare Aperto. Bainbridge is operating alongside other exercise participants to train in anti-submarine, anti-surface, anti-air, and amphibious warfare.
“When you add a U.S. destroyer to a foreign exercise, there is a responsibility to operate and represent our nation the right way,” said Cmdr. Patrick R. Murphy, commanding officer of USS Bainbridge. “I don’t take it lightly that we are the only U.S. destroyer in this exercise, and we are operating at the highest level we can.”
The U.S. Navy also has P-8 Poseidon aircraft from Combined Task Force (CTF) 67 in Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, supporting the exercise. The assignment of so many resources, from ships to aircraft, is the latest in a series of coalition exercises the U.S. Navy is performing in the 6th Fleet area of operations.
"This is a great opportunity for U.S. Navy maritime patrol and reconnaissance assets to work with their anti-submarine warfare counterparts,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Silva, mission commander from CTF 67. “The crew is learning a lot from their experience and honing their skills for further cooperation with our NATO partners."
Coalition operations are a hallmark of the ABECSG’s deployment in the Mediterranean, which is focused on building interoperability among NATO allies.
“It’s a big deal for us to operate with our partners and for them to operate with us,” said Murphy. “You begin to understand how these navies operate and appreciate their phenomenal mariner and war-fighting skills. This creates the cohesive unity you need in this part of the world.”
The ABECSG is deployed as part of an ongoing rotation of forward-deployed naval forces in support of maritime security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet areas of operation. With Abraham Lincoln as the flagship, deployed strike group assets include staffs, ships, and aircraft of CSG 12, Destroyer Squadron 2, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), and CVW 7, as well as the Álvaro de Bazán-class frigate ESPS Méndez Núñez (F 104).