By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Barnes
The Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) returned to Gaeta, Italy, after a three-month deployment July 30, 2019.
Mount Whitney departed Gaeta May 20 and began its summer deployment in support of regional allies and partners, and U.S. national security interests in Europe.
"I could not be prouder of the crew of the Mount Whitney,” said Capt. Cassidy Norman, commanding officer of Mount Whitney. “They achieved every planned - and unplanned - mission presented to them on this deployment, including an exceptional command ship platform for commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet and other flag officers and their staffs. They also held four embassy-level distinguished receptions in a span of 21 days, positively representing the U.S. Navy to hundreds of guests.”
Mount Whitney’s deployment included 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. 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 battle space.
In support of BALTOPS, Mount Whitney embarked more than 400 personnel including five U.S. flag officers, and one Royal Navy admiral - along with the staffs of U.S. 2nd Fleet, the United Kingdom Maritime Forces, the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Carrier Strike Group 2, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Command, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 22, and the Romanian 307th Naval Infantry Company.
Following BALTOPS, Mount Whitney visited Germany, Estonia, Finland, and Sweden in support of commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa theater security cooperation objectives. Mount Whitney hosted diplomatic receptions in support of U.S. embassies and engaged with the heads of navy from Germany, Estonia, Finland, and Sweden. The crew also participated in community relation outreach events and completed shipboard firefighting training in Rota, Spain.
"We are looking forward to reuniting with our families and friends here in Gaeta, as well as continuing to prepare the ship for future exercises and operations," said Norman.
In total, Mount Whitney and its crew covered approximately 9,000 nautical miles and visited five countries during its deployment.
“This deployment was a good experience, I got the opportunity to see new places and meet new people,” said Yeoman 2nd Class Josue Lumba. “I’m glad to be home and to be able to see my loved ones.”
Mount Whitney, forward-deployed to Gaeta, Italy, operates with a combined crew of U.S. Navy 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.