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NEWS | Nov. 24, 2021

U.S. Sixth Fleet Joins France's Polaris 21 Exercise

By Lt.j.g. Brinn Hefron, USS Porter Public Affairs

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78), U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft from Commander, Task Force 67, and the Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Lenthal (T-AO 189) began participation in the French-led multilateral maritime exercise Polaris 21 in the Mediterranean Sea, Monday,  Nov. 22. 2021.

The U.S. forces joined Italian, Greek, Spanish, and the U.K. maritime forces to develop high-end carrier strike group-level warfighting interoperability and proficiency among the NATO allies during France’s maritime exercise that began Nov. 18.

“Operating alongside our allies is always a privilege, not only for our crew to hone their mariner skills but also to showcase our commitment to stability in the region,” said Cmdr. Christopher Petro, commanding officer of USS Porter. “Participating in multi-national exercises, especially with an allied forces carrier strike group, ensures Porter is always ready to execute any mission.”

French and allied units scheduled to participate include French Aircraft Carrier Charles De Gaulle and Landing Helicopter Dock Tonnerre, Destroyer Alsace, Provence, Aquitaine, Fregate Aconit, Forbin, Latouche Tréville, Corvette Commandant Ducuing et Commandant Birot Auxiliary ships Marne and other French ships, French Army and French Air Forces units.

NATO participation includes the Italian Navy destroyer ITS Carlo Bergamini (F-590), the Spanish Navy destroyer SPS Méndez Nuñez (F 104), the Hellenic Navy Frigate HS Adrias (F-459), and U.K. Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dragon (D35).

Polaris 21 enhances high-level operational preparation and stimulates strategic and tactical creativity amongst NATO allies and partners through a sustained and intense combat training scenario across multiple domains of warfare above and below the Mediterranean Sea and  Atlantic Ocean. 

"Building relationships with our allies and partners is an integral aspect of Porter’s mission," said Cmdr. Joseph Hamilton, executive officer of USS Porter. "Polaris 21, is a fantastic opportunity to integrate with our NATO Allies, especially when it allows us to stretch our tactical acumen."

Increasingly, NATO allies are expanding their high-end maritime warfighting capabilities by integrating into exercises and carrier strike group deployments. Last month, the Norwegian frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310) joined the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) strike group for their Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) and is scheduled to accompany the CSG on their upcoming deployment.

Other recent integration examples include USS Porter’s participation in the U.K. Royal Navy’s Fleet Operational Sea Training (FOST) exercise in October, and USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) integration into the U.K. Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth deployment. Integration with allied and partner navies enables ships and crews from different countries to bridge language barriers to operate safely together by utilizing shared understanding of international maritime law. 

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, security and stability in Europe and Africa.