By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matt Herbst
President Ilir Meta of the Republic of Albania, along with top Albanian military leaders and diplomats, visited the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), May 1.
President Meta, Minister of Defense Olta Xhaçka, and other guests landed aboard the ship in three MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters from the “Nightdippers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5 to familiarize themselves with U.S. Navy carrier operations and to interact with Abraham Lincoln Sailors.
“Albania is a true friend, ally and partner of the United States, and it is a pleasure to have them onboard with us so they can witness what our team does here and how our Navy operates,” said Rear Adm. John Wade, commander, Carrier Strike Group 12.
President Meta and the Albanian officials toured the ship, visiting spaces such as the hangar bay, bridge and primary flight control in addition to watching flight operations up-close on the flight deck.
“We enjoy showing off our ship and showing off our Sailors, most of whom are on their first tour, who make all of these amazing things happen,” said Capt. Robert Bibeau, executive officer of Abraham Lincoln.
For more than 70 years the U.S. and allied and partnered nations have advanced freedom, peace and prosperity across a free and open European region. Albania is an integral partner in improving this stability in the Adriatic Sea. The Albanian Navy’s participation in the Adriatic Ionian Initiative (ADRION) and the annual Adriatic Partnership Maritime Interdiction Operation (MIO)/Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) exercise demonstrates their valued contribution to maritime security.
“Albania’s goal for this visit was to strengthen the bond with the U.S. and demonstrate to any other actors that Albania is not a permissive environment for them,” said Cmdr. James Hilton, the Defense and Naval Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, Albania. “Albania is a strong U.S. ally and NATO member. The visit not only demonstrated this alliance, but allowed senior leaders to observe first-hand U.S. Naval operations at sea.”
The U.S. will continue to cooperate with responsible regional partners to address differences and defend against threats to international order.
Abraham Lincoln is deployed with the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (ABECSG) 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 (CSG 12), Destroyer Squadron 2 (DESRON 2), USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) and Carrier Air Wing 7 (CVW 7); as well as the Àlvaro de Bazàn-class frigate ESPS Méndez Núñez (F 104).