By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Damon Grosvenor
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) returned to Rota, Spain, March 14 after completing its ninth Forward-Deployed Naval Forces Europe patrol in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations. During the patrol, Porter completed operations in the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and Atlantic Ocean with several allies and partnered nations.
"I'm extremely proud of this crew of Champions for the execution of a very successful patrol," said Cmdr. Thomas Ralston, commanding officer of Porter. "We worked hard together as a team, flexed to overcome many obstacles, and accomplished the mission. We strengthened relationships with our partners and allies to increase interoperability, regional stability and maritime security throughout the Sixth Fleet area of responsibility. We are excited for our return home and the opportunity to reconnect with our families and loved ones."
Porter participated in exercise Atlas Handshake with the Royal Moroccan Navy from Jan. 13 to Jan. 15, and again from March 12 to March 13, which consisted of several maneuverability exercises and live-fire gunnery training utilizing the Aourioura Ordnance Range near Tan Tan, Morocco.
On Jan. 28, 2021, Porter briefly took command of a Surface Action Group consisting of the Henry J. Kaiser-class underway replenishment oiler USNS Laramie (T-AO-203) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), after entering the Black Sea. While in the Black Sea, Porter participated in War at Sea exercises with the Turkish Armed Forces, Romanian Armed Forces, and Ukrainian Armed Forces. These engagements included precision maneuvering evolutions, air defense exercises with fighter aircraft, and antisubmarine warfare exercises.
Porter departed the Black Sea, Feb. 10, 2021.
On Feb. 19, Porter conducted interoperability exercises with the Hellenic Navy and Air Force. The exercise consisted of advanced maneuvers as well as communications, air defense, anti-submarine and electronic warfare items.
On Feb. 20, Porter moored in Souda Bay, Greece, for a scheduled port visit. During the port visit, the ship’s Morale Welfare and Readiness (MWR) team hosted several events on the pier, and personnel received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine with assistance from Naval Hospital Souda Bay.
Porter returned to Rota, Spain on Feb. 27 before participating in Lightning Handshake with the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Carrier Strike Group, which is a bi-lateral maritime exercise between the U.S. and Royal Moroccan Navy and Royal Moroccan Air Force.
Porter concluded the patrol by returning to the Aourioura Ordnance Range near Tan Tan, Morocco for Atlas Handshake once more, March 12 and 13.
Four U.S. Navy destroyers, including Porter, 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 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.