By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Christine Montgomery, USS Ross Public Affairs
Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) returned to Naval Station Rota, Spain, following the completion of its 10th Forward-Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) patrol in U.S. Sixth Fleet, Dec. 11.
Ross departed Rota on Aug. 29, after a period of sequester to establish a COVID-free bubble for its nearly 300 Sailors, ensuring mission readiness before transiting north to begin patrol.
“Patrol 10 has presented its fair share of challenges that, I’m proud to say, team Ross gladly accepted and overcame,” said Cmdr. John D. John, commanding officer of Ross. “Together with our NATO Allies, we learned many invaluable lessons to help improve our ability to work together toward the common goal of regional stability and freedom of navigation in the high north and Baltic region.”
Ross began Patrol 10 in the Barents Sea as part of a Surface Action Group with Royal Navy Frigate HMS Sutherland (F81), British Fleet Auxiliary RFA Tidespring (A136) Tide-Class Replenishment Tanker and Royal Norwegian Frigate HNOMS Thor Heyerdahl (F 314). The SAG conducted maritime security operations in the austere Arctic environment, demonstrating seamless integration among Allies. A P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft from Patrol Squadron (VP) 47 also joined the ships to conduct communications procedures, joint maneuvering, and flight and air defense operations.
After successful Barents Sea operations, Ross joined NATO Allied forces for Exercise Joint Warrior 20-2, a bi-annual British-led multinational exercise. The more than 6, 000 personnel, 81 aircraft, and 28 ships from 13 nations participating in Exercise Joint Warrior 20-2 conducted operations across the full-spectrum of warfare environments, including small boat attacks, boarding operations, air defense, and anti-submarine warfare tactics to increase interoperability between nations.
In October, following Joint Warrior, Ross returned to the Barents Sea, continuing Arctic operations with logistical support from the Henry J. Kaiser-class replenishment oiler USNS Laramie (T-AO-203). The destroyer conducted multiple replenishment evolutions with Laramie, which enabled uninterrupted operations in the harsh climate of the High North.
The ship then transited back to the Baltic region to conduct operations alongside NATO Allies and partners, which included air defense exercises with NATO German and Italian Eurofighter F 2000 aircraft.
After departing the Baltic Sea, Ross joined Standing NATO Maritime Group One to conduct air defense exercises with six French Dassault Rafale aircraft and a French E-2C Hawkeye from NATO Air Command, as well as close-proximity passing maritime maneuvers with Portuguese Vasco da Gama-class frigate NPR Corte-Real (F332) and Canadian Halifax-class frigate HMCS Toronto (FFH 333).
Ross continued its regiment of COVID precautions throughout patrol during scheduled port stops for refueling and stores on-loads in Kiel, Germany; Tromso, Norway; and Gdynia, Poland, utilizing both proper social distancing and sanitation measures to ensure the health and safety of the crew and our partners and Allies.
Ross, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, operates in support of U.S. national security interests in the Sixth Fleet area of operations.
Four U.S. Navy destroyers are based in Rota, Spain, and assigned to Commander, Task Force 65 in support of NATO’s Integrated Air Missile Defense architecture. These Forward-Deployed Naval Forces-Europe ships have the flexibility to operate throughout the waters of Europe and Africa, from Cape of Good Hope to the Arctic Circle, demonstrating their mastery of the maritime domain.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts a full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national security interests and stability in Europe and Africa.