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NEWS | Dec. 2, 2021

Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and Allied Joint Forces Command Naples Visits Charles de Gaulle

By U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa / U.S. Sixth Fleet Public Affairs

Adm. Robert Burke, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) and Allied Joint Forces Command (JFC) Naples, visited the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R 91) during the French exercise POLARIS 21, Dec. 2, 2021.

This year marked the first iteration of the exercise, which began Nov. 18 and brought together 6,000 personnel, more than 20 ships and 65 aircraft from across NATO for an exercise centered on the Charles de Gaulle and integrated carrier strike group (CSG) operations.

POLARIS 21 enhanced operational preparation and strategic and tactical creativity through sustained and intense combat training scenarios across multiple domains of warfare above and below the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. 

“High-end exercises like POLARIS truly prove the strength of the NATO alliance and our ability to work as a cohesive team,” said Burke. “We will fight as an alliance, so it only makes sense to train as an alliance. These challenging exercises strengthen the bonds between the U.S. and our Allies as we work together to ensure security and stability throughout Europe.”

The exercise served as a deployment certification similar to an Amphibious Ready Group or Carrier Strike Group Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX).

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) led U.S. participation in the exercise, which also featured P-8A Poseidon aircraft from Commander, Task Force 67 and the Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Lenthall (T-AO 189).

“It was fantastic to count on highly valuable and reliable crews such as USS Porter and P-8As,” said Rear Admiral Christophe Cluzel, commander of Task Force 473 and POLARIS’ officer in charge. “They provided an outstanding contribution to POLARIS high-end warfare exercise, enhancing our interoperability within the French carrier strike group. It is a promising step for future common deployment in the Mediterranean Sea and other oceans.”

French and allied units who participated included French Aircraft Carrier Charles De Gaulle and Landing Helicopter Dock Tonnerre; Destroyers Alsace, Provence, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Fregate Aconit, Forbin, Latouche Tréville; Corvettes Commandant Ducuing and Commandant Birot; Auxiliary ship Marne and other French navy, French army and French air force units.

NATO allies participating in the exercise included Hellenic Navy Frigate HS Adrias (F-459), Italian navy destroyer ITS Carlo Bergamini (F-590), Spanish navy destroyer SPS Méndez Nuñez (F 104), Spanish Auxiliary ship Cantabria and U.K. Royal Navy destroyer HMS Dragon (D35).

Exercises like POLARIS give NATO allies and partners opportunities to continue enhancing their interoperability through multilateral operations leading to increased integration opportunities with various allied carrier strike groups.

In October, the Norwegian frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310) joined the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) carrier strike group (HSTCSG) for their Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) and is scheduled to accompany the strike group on their upcoming deployment. Porter participated in the U.K. Royal Navy’s Fleet Operational Sea Training (FOST) exercise in September, and USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) joined the U.K. Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth 2021 deployment.

U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, 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.