By Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Scott Barnes
The Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) made a scheduled logistics stop to Oslo, Norway, June 1, 2021.
The port visit follows the ship’s participation in NATO collective defense exercise Steadfast Defender 2021. The exercise enhanced alliance security by maintaining NATO’s broad range of interoperability and military capabilities to deter potential adversaries and assure allies of NATO’s ability to defend them.
USS Mount Whitney’s Commanding Officer Capt. David Pollard said that he was proud of his crew’s performance during the exercise and the impact it had in the region.
"Team 20 provided incredible support to Joint Forces Command Norfolk and Commander, 2nd Fleet, providing persistent and reliable command, control, and communications, which enabled the successful execution of Steadfast Defender '21,” said Pollard. “The Alliance proved we could secure strategic Sea Lines of Communication, ensure transatlantic security, and reinforce Europe with North American supplies and personnel."
During the stop, due to current COVID-19 restrictions, the crew of the Mount Whitney were not authorized local liberty but held a Steel Beach Picnic to support crew camaraderie, build morale and to celebrate completion of Steadfast Defender 2021. The event met all COVID-19 risk mitigation requirements established by Mount Whitney and Oslo, Norway.
The crew also had the opportunity to participate in a wreath laying ceremony at the Norwegian monument ”Orlogsgasten.” The monument pays tribute to Norwegian mariners who served in the joint fleet and the Royal Norwegian Navy from 1510-1945. It is a tradition for foreign visiting ships in Oslo to lay flowers or wreaths at Orlogsgasten.
"The United States and Norway are close NATO allies and collaborate on a wide range of issues important to both nations and to the rest of the Alliance,” said Pollard. “Allied logistics operations in Norway, evidenced through USS Mount Whitney’s routine visit to Oslo, builds upon Norway’s ability to receive Allied reinforcements and is critical to credible deterrence and transatlantic security.”
Mount Whitney, forward deployed to Gaeta, Italy operates with a combined crew of Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.