By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Barnes
The U.S. 6th Fleet Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) arrived in Helsinki, Finland, for a scheduled port visit July 3, 2019.
The visit serves to demonstrate enduring partnership with Finland and a mutual commitment to regional security and stability.
"The proven partnership between the United States and Finland is built on shared values, experiences, and vision. We operate frequently with our Finnish Navy counterparts, and look forward to more opportunities in the future" said Captain Cassidy Norman, commanding officer, USS Mount Whitney. "We recently completed dynamic partnership building operations during BALTOPS 2019. During the exercise, we were quite impressed with Finland's involvement in BALTOPS, including mine clearance operations, which are vital in keeping the sea lanes free and open for all vessels."
Mount Whitney arrived in Helsinki following a visit in Estonia and participation in the 47th iteration of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS). BALTOPS is the premier maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region and took place in the Baltic Sea from June 9-21, 2019. Ground, maritime, and air forces from participating nations worked together to exercise air defense, maritime interdiction, anti-subsurface warfare, mine countermeasures, and amphibious operations in order to strengthen the development of our joint leaders and teams across all layers of the battlespace.
During the visit, the crew of Mount Whitney is scheduled to hold a reception on the 4th of July for distinguished visitors and local leaders aboard the ship. The crew will also visit the Kauniala Hospital for disabled war veterans where sailors will spend time helping veterans.
“The COMREL is going to be a great opportunity to get to know and help Finnish veterans,” said Personnel Specialist 2nd Class Ahna Kim. “I am really excited and looking forward to this.”
“We are now looking forward to spending time ashore in this beautiful and historic city - where we will celebrate the 243rd birthday of the United States," said Norman. "We are grateful for the hospitality of our Finnish hosts and are happy to have the chance to meet with Finnish Defense Forces to continue building the strong relationship between the U.S. and Finland."
Mount Whitney, which was commissioned on January 16th, 1971 is the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship, homeported in Gaeta, Italy, operates with a combined crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.
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.