By LTJG Robinson McMillan, USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) Public Affairs Officer
The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) returned to Rota, Spain, Dec. 23, 2021, completing her inaugural patrol as a member of the U.S. Navy’s Forward Deployed Naval Forces-Europe (FDNF-E) and culminating in a successful year of operations.
After 30 years based in Norfolk, Virginia, Arleigh Burke shifted homeports to Rota, Spain in April 2021 and joined U.S. Sixth Fleet’s, Destroyer Squadron 60. Arleigh Burke began patrol in August and spent the last four months operating alongside NATO allies and partners throughout the Sixth Fleet area of responsibility.
Arleigh Burke Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Patrick Chapman, reflected on the accomplishments of the past twelve months.
“In an especially challenging year punctuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, an international homeport shift, and its first Sixth Fleet patrol, USS Arleigh Burke overcame all odds to deliver American strength and resolve on demand, on time, every time.”
Over the course of 2021, Arleigh Burke sailed more than 44,000 miles, circumnavigated Europe, and executed operations in the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Barents Sea, Atlantic Ocean, and Arctic Ocean.
Arleigh Burke began patrol by sailing above the Arctic Circle. Along the way, they participated in an air defense exercise with U.S. and Norwegian Air Forces.
The ship then proceeded south, through the Danish Straits, to the Baltic Sea. While in the Baltic, Arleigh Burke demonstrated interoperability with NATO allies and partners; and conducted a port visit in Tallinn, Estonia where they welcomed several distinguished guests, including the Estonian President, Kersti Kaljulaid.
After a brief stop in Rota, Spain, Arleigh Burke returned to the Baltic Sea where they operated alongside allied and partner navies, including Canadian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish ships of Standing NATO Maritime Group (SNMG) 1.
Arleigh Burke conducted a port call in Helsinki, Finland before returning to Rota, Spain and became the first forward deployed ship to complete the U.S. Navy’s Damage Control-Industrial training exercise.
Following the exercise, Arleigh Burke sailed east, through the Strait of Gibraltar, Mediterranean Sea, and Turkish Straits, and entered the Black Sea. While in the Black Sea, Arleigh Burke executed port visits in Varna, Bulgaria; Constanta, Romania; and Golcuk, Turkey; hosted Romanian and Turkish naval leadership, and conducted a tactical maneuvering exercise with the Georgian Coast Guard.
Arleigh Burke a returned to Rota on Dec. 23, marking the end of a momentous year and a highly successful patrol.
Arleigh Burke is one of four U.S. Navy destroyers based in Rota, Spain, and assigned to Commander, Task Force 65 in support of NATO’s Integrated Air Missile Defense architecture. These FDNF-E ships have the flexibility to operate throughout the waters of Europe and Africa, from the Cape of Good Hope to the Arctic Circle, demonstrating their mastery of the maritime domain.
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 and security and stability in Europe and Africa.