By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Fred Gray IV
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) returned to Naval Station Rota, Spain, following their seventh forward deployed naval force (FDNF) patrol, March 31.
The Carney began its patrol Nov. 15, 2019, to conduct naval operations in the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operations (AOO).
“The flexibility and resiliency of our crew speaks volumes of the dedication of the U.S. Navy to operate forward,” said Cmdr. Christopher Carroll. “Aboard the Carney we pride ourselves in maintaining our readiness to be able to execute whatever mission set that comes at us.”
Carney began her patrol by transiting north to Plymouth, England, to participate in the United Kingdom-led exercise FOST (Flag Officer Sea Training) where the crew was tested in mission critical areas such as seamanship, damage control, anti-terrorism, anti-submarine warfare, anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare, and cyber warfare.
“The training that we received from our Royal Navy partners was invaluable,” said Lt. Jason Schladt, operations officer aboard Carney. “Every time we participate in another country’s training regimen, we come out stronger and a more interoperable force.”
Following the FOST training received from U.K. partners, Carney headed back to Naval Station Rota, Spain, for a training and maintenance availability from Dec. 23, 2019 until Jan. 7, 2020. Carney and its crew received national tasking to proceed to the U.S. 5th Fleet AOO and got underway ahead of schedule.
While in 5th Fleet, Carney embedded with the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group and the Bataan Amphibious Readiness Group to support maritime security operations and ensure freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce.
During its time in 5th Fleet, Carney conducted a scheduled port visit to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates where the crew was able to take on stores, fuel, and was afforded the opportunity to go on liberty after sustained operations at sea.
After the visit to Abu Dhabi, Carney received orders to return to 6th Fleet, where the crew circumnavigated Africa, a rare tasking that has not been done by a U.S. Navy vessel in nearly a decade.
While the Carney was transiting around Africa, it conducted a scheduled port visit to Port Victoria, Seychelles where the crew conducted community outreach, and a follow-on port visit to Cape Town, South Africa, where the crew was able to host U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks.
During Carney’s time in the waters around Africa, Sailors were able to undergo a rare Navy rite of passage by becoming “Shellbacks,” and then “Emerald Shellbacks.”
The earned title of “Shellback” occurs when a Sailor is initiated in the Lord Neptune’s Order of the Deep by the already existing “Shellbacks” through the crossing the line ceremony. This only occurs when a ship crosses the equator. An “Emerald Shellback” undergoes the same initiation, but when the ship crosses the equator at the Prime Meridian.
“This truly was a patrol for the books,” added Carroll. “We are excited to be back to spend some much-deserved time back at home.”
The Carney is now back to where her journey began, but not before hitting some major milestones for her crew. During the seventh FDNF patrol, Carney traveled 27,300 nautical miles, which is more than the 21,600 nautical miles it would take to circumnavigate the world. Also, Carney expended more than 30,557 rounds of ammunition during training events and underwent 16 replenishments-at-sea.
Upon its return to Rota, Carney will prepare for its homeport shift to Mayport, Florida. USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) will replace Carney as one of four FDNF in Spain.
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.