By U.S. Sixth Fleet Public Affairs
U.S. Sixth Fleet (SIXTHFLT) hosted French FREMM Frigate FS Auvergne’s (D 654) leadership at its headquarters in Naples, Italy, while France welcomed the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) to Marseille, France this past week.
After Auvergne docked in Naples, Dec. 3, French sailors toured SIXTHFLT headquarters and engaged in a series of working groups with SIXTHFLT staff focused on mutual areas of interest and opportunities for continued collaboration on both a bilateral basis and within the NATO alliance.
“We are honored to host our French counterparts here at our headquarters,” said Capt. Jim Howell, SIXTHFLT’s current operations director. “We routinely work with France during exercises and operations throughout the European and African theaters, and this visit allowed us to continue improving our interoperability together as allies.”
Auvergne’s leadership returned the favor, Dec. 6, by hosting members of SIXTHFLT’s Commander Task Force (CTF) 65/Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 60 and giving them a tour of the ship. CTF-65/DESRON-60 exercises operational and tactical control of all forward deployed surface combatants operating in the SIXTHFLT area of responsibility under the direction of Naval Forces Europe and Africa.
Simultaneously, the French hosted Porter in Marseille, France, for a scheduled port visit and engagements. Porter entered Marseille, Dec. 5. This port visit provided Porter’s Sailors with a unique opportunity to engage directly with local Marseille citizens, while gaining an increased understanding and appreciation of French culture.
These visits fall shortly after the conclusion of the French exercise POLARIS 21, which brought together personnel, ships and aircraft from across NATO to train in high-end, multi-domain warfighting scenarios. Porter led U.S. participation in POLARIS 21 and was joined by P-8A Poseidon aircraft from CTF 67 and the Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Lenthall (T-AO 189).
“USS Porter and the other American units played an important role in the overall success of POLARIS 21,” said rear-admiral Christophe Cluzel, the French carrier strike group commander. “We look forward to working with the U.S. in more exercises to come.”
Porter, one of four U.S. destroyers forward-deployed to Naval Station Rota, Spain, is conducting naval operations in the SIXTHFLT area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe. The ship is on its 10th patrol and has operated from the northern edges of NATO to the Black Sea and throughout the Mediterranean. Porter sailed alongside numerous NATO allies and partners, demonstrating the strength and cohesion of NATO and the close bonds among allied and partner navies.
SIXTHFLT, 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.