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NEWS | Feb. 18, 2020

U.S. 6th Fleet Celebrates 70th Anniversary at Sea and Shore

By U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

U.S. 6th Fleet (C6F) celebrated its 70th anniversary at sea aboard the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) and ashore at their headquarters in Naples, Italy, Feb. 12, 2020.

C6F, established February 12, 1950, provides credible combat forces to Europe and Africa, promoting regional security and stability to ensure safety for the world’s oceans and sea lanes. The C6F area of operation covers more than 100 countries and 67 percent of the world's coastline, stretching from the North Pole to Antarctica.

“The men and women of Sixth Fleet, our Sailors, Marines, Coastguardsmen, civilians, and their families, comprise the finest fighting force in support of our national defense strategy,” said Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, C6F. “For 70 years we’ve demonstrated the inherent flexibility and power Naval Forces offer 24/7/365, and we are providing options and decision space to our national leaders.”

From conflicts with the Barbary pirates, to the invasion of Normandy, and now to today’s missions in and around the Mediterranean Sea, the U.S. Navy's history in this massive area of the world stretches back more than 200 years.

As C6F drew closer to this birthday celebration, former C6F commanding officers, stationed around the globe, paid tribute to the command for celebrating this milestone, emphasizing the vital role it plays in maintaining peace and prosperity.

Harry B. Harris, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, and commander from November 2009 to October 2011, extended his congratulations on this occasion.

“No exaggeration, I love 6th Fleet and living in Naples.” said Harris. “It was my best tour as a flag officer. The history, the people I worked with, the missions we had we all simply incredible. I wish you all continued success for many more years to come.”

The command’s maritime skills and proficiencies are honed with partners and allies by conducting more than 70+ joint exercises annually, including Sea Breeze in the Black Sea, BALTOPS in the Baltic Sea, and the Express Series around the west, north, and east of Africa.

“Mediterranean refers to the water "between the land" and Sixth Fleet is guardian of this ancient and historic sea,” said Vice Adm. (ret.) Frank Pandolfe, C6F commander from October 2011 to October 2013. “Every day, it builds partnerships, deters aggression, defends against terrorism, and provides assistance to those in need.  Sixth Fleet serves in a dynamic and vital part of the world, drawing upon the skills and dedication of a magnificent team of military and civilian professionals."

“I can’t tell you what a privilege it was to serve alongside all the extraordinary team mates’ right there on the U.S. 6th Fleet staff from October 2013 to December 2014,” said Adm. Phil Davidson, commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and a former commander of C6F. “The Mediterranean is the birth place of civilization, and in many respects it remains the lifeblood between Europe and Southwest Asia to the United States. The U.S. 6th Fleet, for 70 years now, has done an extraordinary job helping protect U.S. interests abroad, assure our allies and partners, and in fact defend American forward.”

C6F Sailors operate from bases in Rota, Spain; Sigonella, Sicily; Souda Bay, Crete; and Gaeta, Italy, while the command itself is headquartered in the maritime port of Naples, Italy.

“I had the pleasure of serving in Europe for many times, and the commanders who proceeded me and succeeded me are nothing short of amazing,” said Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, Naval Forces Europe and Africa, and commander of 6th Fleet from December 2014 to October 2016. “This is the 70th, and I am looking for 70 more.”

For 70 years, C6F has enhanced transatlantic security through support to NATO, building partnership capacity and working with partners to promote trade and freedom, stop unlawful activity at sea, and ensure enduring relationships with allies.

“To all who have served in Sixth Fleet in the past, to all who are serving today, and to our families and friends that make it all possible, Happy Birthday!” said Franchetti. “I am confident that those standing in our shoes in 2070 will look back with pride on all we have accomplished together.”

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.