By Lt. Cmdr. Fernando Rivero and Lt. j.g. Kathleen Barrios, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs
The Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) and guided-missile destroyers USS Forest Sherman (DDG 98) and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) conducted bilateral maneuvering and communication exercises with Italian Navy aircraft carrier ITS Giuseppe Garibaldi (C551), Feb. 22.
Bilateral ship maneuvering drills, communication tests and other simulated tactical exercises ensure the navies are able to effectively communicate and work seamlessly together during real-world operations.
Giuseppe Garibaldi is an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) carrier and based in Taranto, Italy. The ship is equipped with surface-to-air missiles, torpedo tube launchers and defensive close-in weapons system (CIWS) mounts and has the capability to launch and recover AV-8B Harrier II jump jets and a variety of helicopters.
“Garibaldi is a veteran ship and is one of the most important in the Italian Navy, being the first aircraft carrier Italy has had post-WWII,” said Lt. j.g. Gianmatteo Francavilla, an Italian naval officer participating in a one-year foreign exchange program and currently serving as assistant navigator aboard Forrest Sherman.
The maneuvers, executed in accordance with international law, highlight the professionalism and skillful seamanship of the navies involved.
“We are grateful for this opportunity to practice operating together with our Italian counterparts,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Milciades "Tony" Then, commodore of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 22, speaking from aboard Mount Whitney. “I admire the incredible professionalism Garibaldi’s Sailors showed during the exercise.”
Italian Navy Rear Adm. Valentino Rinaldi thanked the U.S. Navy for taking the time to undertake the bilateral drills, said Then.
“Operating in close formation with our Allies and partners is always an excellent way to continue to build interoperability between our navies,” said Cmdr. Lawrence Heyworth IV, executive officer of the USS Forrest Sherman. “The entire bridge team had the utmost confidence in maneuvering close to the Giuseppe Garibaldi.”
The U.S. ships are deployed to the European theater of operations, participating in a range of maritime activities in support of U.S. 6th Fleet and NATO Allies.
U.S. 6th 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.