By Ens. Chase Liddon, USS Donald Cook Public Affairs
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) returned to Rota, Spain after completing its 11th and final FDNF-E Patrol, April 28, 2021.
Donald Cook’s 11th patrol of the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of responsibility in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa took them from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.
"Donald Cook hit another one out of the park," said Capt. Joseph Gagliano, commodore, CTF-65. "The officers and crew can be proud of everything they have contributed to security and stability in this theater."
While transiting east, Donald Cook met with an Italian Bergamini-class frigate, ITS Carlo Margottini (F 592), and two Italian AV-8B Harrier aircraft in support of NATO cooperation in the Mediterranean. The two ships conducted a series of air defense and anti-submarine warfare exercises before finishing with precise ship maneuverability exercises; the ships practiced passing each other at very close distances.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the crew’s performance during patrol 11,” said Cmdr. Matthew Curnen, commanding officer of Donald Cook. “They continuously overcame adversity to execute each mission while displaying unparalleled professionalism and expertise. This patrol continued to build our tactical proficiency as well as our ability to seamlessly transition between operating with NATO allies and independently.”
Donald Cook visited the Black Sea twice while on patrol to conduct presence operations and continue conducting interoperability exercises with allies in the region. While in the Black Sea, Donald Cook conducted two underway replenishments with the Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS Laramie (T-AO 203) while operating with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78).
On February 5th, the crew received a warm welcome from Batumi, Georgia as they manned the rails, emphasizing the important relationship between the United States and allies in the Black Sea region.
Before their departure of the Black Sea, Donald Cook and Porter were met by two Turkish frigates, TCG Orucreis (F 245) and TCG Turgutreis (F 241), Turkish aircraft, and a U.S P-8 Poseidon to conduct air and anti-submarine warfare exercises. After exiting the Black Sea, Donald Cook made their way to Souda Bay, Greece where they received the first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.
When asked about his thoughts on this patrol, Operations Specialist 1st Class Shanard Wade said, “It has been a long and tough patrol, but extremely rewarding to see exponential growth both personally and professionally among my sailors. The bonds and comradery we’ve developed this patrol will be something that sticks with me forever.”
Towards the end of patrol 11, Donald Cook integrated into a multi-national carrier strike group centered on the nuclear-powered French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R91). The strike group included seven ships from five NATO countries including Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, and the United States. Before transiting the Straits of Messina and continuing on into the Ionian Sea, the group conducted a series of mobility exercises where the ships tactically maneuvered into different formations demonstrating ship handling competency and commitment to fostering a relationship with our NATO allies.
Donald Cook completed one final underway to the Aegean Sea to perform maneuver exercises with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) to round-out patrol 11. The two destroyers formed a Surface Action Group (SAG) led by Commodore Gagliano, commander, Task Force 65, who was embarked on the Roosevelt during this underway. Gagliano and his team led the SAG through numerous scenarios to provide integrated training and test real-time response to combat situations.
Throughout Donald Cook’s time in U.S. Sixth Fleet, the ship has gone into the Barents Sea above Europe, in the Baltic Sea in support of our Baltic Allies and partners, and in the Mediterranean Sea in support of our NATO Allies and partners. The ship participated in countless exercises in the past like Exercise Sea Breeze, BALTOPs, and many others. Their missions sets had them participating in surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and anti-air warfare scenarios that focus on maintaining maritime security.
Four U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, including Donald Cook, 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.