NEWS | Jan. 20, 2021

USS Donald Cook Conducts Interoperability Exercises with Italian Navy

By Lt. j. g. Sarah Claudy

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) conducted an interoperability exercise with the Italian Bergamini-class frigate ITS Carlo Margottini (F592) and two Italian AV-8B Harrier aircraft, Jan. 16, 2021.

In the vicinity of the Ionian Sea, Donald Cook and Margottini participated in a series of interoperability exercises, which tested the crews’ skills in multiple warfare areas, including air defense, anti-submarine warfare, and seamanship.

Two Italian AV-8B Harriers joined the ships to perform an air defense exercise, where aircraft controllers onboard each ship strategically maneuvered the aircraft above.  Surface assets conducted a tactical data link exercise while simultaneously practicing replenishment at sea approaches. Donald Cook and Margottini ended the day using passive and active sonar to cooperatively hunt a simulated submarine.

The day’s events reaffirmed Donald Cook’s commitment to practicing interoperability with NATO allies and partners in the Sixth Fleet area of operations. Donald Cook often participates in multi-national exercises, the most recent being U.K.-led Exercise Joint Warrior in October 2020. This is the first time in several years that Donald Cook conducted a unilateral exercise with the Italian Navy.

“Today, a lot of us were humbled by our unmistakable kinship with the Italians and the strength that allies can lend one another,” said Lt. Cmdr. Shawn Henry, Donald Cook’s planning and tactics officer. “The Italians are consummate professionals and we certainly learned a lot from each other.  It’s astonishing that two allies can so quickly come together and ‘play ball,’ just as you would with an old friend. It’s sensational when you look a Sailor from a foreign Navy in the eye from the bridge wing and realize how much you have in common.  The day was both personally and professionally rewarding, and we are extremely grateful for this opportunity.”

The Margottini is a Bergamini-class frigate, also known as a FREMM, or “European multi-purpose frigate.”  The United States’ new Constellation-class of guided-missile frigates, currently under development, is based on the FREMM frigate.

“Working with Margottini was especially exciting because it felt like working with a future piece of the U. S. Navy,” Henry said.  

Donald Cook is currently on her 11th patrol of the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of responsibility in support of U.S. national interest and security in Europe and Africa.

Donald Cook is one of four U.S. Navy destroyers 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 the Cape of Good Hope to the Arctic Circle, demonstrating their mastery of the maritime domain.

U.S. Sixth 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.