By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jarrod A. Schad
The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG), which is comprised of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and guided missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), departed the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations after conducting maritime security operations in the region, May 8.
While in the Mediterranean Sea, the JCSCSG participated in naval exercises with Great Britain, France, and the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (ABECSG) to strengthen interoperability with NATO allies and partners and demonstrate our collective resolve for security in the region, and conducted a high-quality port visit to Marseille, France.
“[John C.] Stennis’ time in the 6th Fleet area of operations provided incredible opportunities to work with another U.S. aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln, and our British and French allies, and it culminated in a fantastic visit to Marseille, France,” said Capt. Randy Peck, commanding officer of the John C. Stennis. “These opportunities demonstrated the combined strength of our partnerships and it was rewarding to nurture enduring relationships in the region across the globe.”
The JCSCSG and ABECSG conducted dual-carrier operations, April 23-25. The CSGs completed high-end warfighting training as they worked multiple scenarios integrating the two air wings and surface ships with key allies and partners in the European theater, to include a long-range strike with the Romanian Air Force and a dynamic photo exercise.
This was the first time the United States has conducted dual-carrier operations in the Mediterranean Sea since the Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry S. Truman CSGs were deployed to the region in 2016.
In total, the dual CSG operations included more than 130 aircraft, 10 ships, and 9,000 Sailors and Marines.
The John C. Stennis visited Marseille, France, for a scheduled port visit, April 27. While in port, Rear Adm. Michael Wettlaufer, commander, CSG 3, hosted a reception aboard the ship. The attending guests included the U.S. Ambassador to the French Republic and Principality of Monaco, Jamie McCourt, and members from Algeria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Great Britain, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, and the United States. Wettlaufer and strike group leadership addressed guests, dined, and socialized with the guests.
“I think this [was] a wonderful opportunity to come together and celebrate one of the oldest partnerships in our nation’s history,” said Command Master Chief Benjamin Rushing, John C. Stennis’ most senior enlisted member.
While in port, John C. Stennis Sailors participated in community outreach events with the Blue Stars Football Club, the Rhone American Cemetery, and a Marseille primary school, all sponsored by the Command Religious Ministry department. Sailors also participated in Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) tours and experienced the local culture in Marseille.
The John C. Stennis hosted distinguished visitors from Turkey, April 22. The visit provided the opportunity for one of the United States’ allies to see the U.S. Navy’s capabilities firsthand. The visitors toured key parts of the ship including the navigation bridge and hangar bay, and observed flight operations from the flight deck.
The integration and teamwork displayed during the John C. Stennis’ time in the 6th Fleet area of responsibility created opportunities for high-end maritime integration, pursuing mutual interests in maintaining free and open access for all in international waters, and improving collective proficiency and interoperability among allies.
John C. Stennis deployed from Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Oct. 15, 2018. The carrier is in the midst of a homeport shift, eventually heading to Norfolk for its scheduled midlife refueling and complex overhaul.
U.S. 6th Fleet, 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.
For more news on John C. Stennis, visit www.stennis.navy.mil or follow along on Facebook at www.facebook.com/stennis74.