By Lt. j. g. Brinn Hefron, USS Porter Public Affairs Officer
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) successfully concluded participation in the French exercise POLARIS 21, December 2, 2021.
POLARIS, a multilateral, cross-domain exercise involving 6,000 personnel, 65 aircraft and more than 20 ships from across the NATO alliance, combined warfighting tactics with communications and maneuvering exercises. The French Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle was the high value unit at the center of the simulated allied forces, who fought against simulated opposition forces led by the French Navy Mistral-class landing helicopter dock Tonnerre.
“This event was not simply for capturing a good picture,” said Lt. Cmdr. Casey DeSormier, Porter’s Plans and Tactics Officer (PTO). “French Maritime Forces hosted a highly organized and thoughtfully planned war at sea exercise that challenged Porter's combat team across multiple domains and proved that as NATO allies, we are ready for high-intensity, high-end conflict today. I look forward to participating again in the future.”
Throughout the exercise, Porter’s warfighting environment followed a steadily progressing storyline of attacks from simulated opposition forces. To counter the opposition, Porter and the other simulated allied units had to incorporate tactics from a multitude of warfare areas, including air defense, strike, surface and subsurface. These simulated tactics were enacted through real-world evolutions, including flight operations, underway replenishments, carrier operations and anti-submarine warfare maneuvering.
“This is the first time the French Navy has planned an exercise like this one to prepare ourselves and French Sailors to work with our allies in cooperation and to be ready to fight in high intensity,” said Lt. Benjamin Frutos, an embarked French Liaison Naval Officer aboard Porter. “I really look forward to working with you again.”
Porter’s participation in POLARIS underscores the cohesiveness of the NATO alliance and the strength of NATO nations operating together. Putting these crews through a rigorous training scenario like in POLARIS pays dividends to the personnel and units involved. The improved interoperability that POLARIS enables strengthens the alliance in the maritime domain.
“Being involved in the first iteration of the POLARIS exercise is an honor, and I couldn’t be more proud of the crew and their performance,” said Cmdr. Christopher Petro, commanding officer of Porter. “Their tactical mindset, and mission-driven focus led to a successful exercise to improve our interoperability and warfighting techniques with our NATO allies.”
French and allied units participating include French Aircraft Carrier Charles De Gaulle and Landing Helicopter Dock Tonnerre, Destroyer Alsace, Provence, Aquitaine, Auvergne, Fregate Aconit, Forbin, Latouche Tréville, Corvette Commandant Ducuing and Commandant Birot, Auxiliary ship Marne and other French ships, French Army and French Air Forces 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).
Porter joined POLARIS, Nov. 23, 2021. U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft from Commander, Task Force 67 and the Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Lenthall (T-AO 189) also participated in the exercise.
Porter, forward deployed to Rota, Spain, is on its tenth patrol in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in support of U.S national security interests in Europe and Africa.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.