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NEWS | June 11, 2022

USS Porter embarks German Navy Chaplain during BALTOPS 22

By MC2 Almagissel Schuring

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) embarked a German Navy chaplain as part of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS22) in the Baltic Sea, June 6, 2022.

Throughout the BALTOPS22, Chaplains from eight nations had the opportunity to further their cross-cultural study by spending time on participating warships as an exchange, shadowing their chaplain counterparts and interacting with Sailors. Porter welcomed Dr. Katja Bruns, a German navy chaplain for one day before she embarked a helicopter to her next destination, the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3).

During her visit, Dr. Bruns had the opportunity to further the comradery initiated in Sweden with Lt. Milo Curtis, the Porter’s Command Chaplain.

"Having Chaplain Bruns aboard USS Porter was a tremendous opportunity for us to practice collaborative ministry while at sea,” said Curtis. “Chaplain Bruns brought a pastoral presence that was refreshing and well received by the entire crew."

Dr. Bruns’ ministry was on display as she walked the ship, meeting and interacting with the Sailors, and when she led a liturgical service in the evening.

“I’ve only been in the Navy for a few years,” said Lt. j.g. Anna Kukelhan. “But this is the first time I’ve seen this kind of collaboration within the Chaplain Corps. It’s gratifying to know that our wellbeing as forward-deployed Sailors is being thoughtfully discussed and put at such a premium.”

This is the first time BALTOPS has incorporated a Religious and Spiritual Support Interoperability Initiative (RSSII).  This initiative is focused on support during times of crisis in the challenging maritime domain.

"It was a joy to compare notes and learn that many of the same issues and obstacles Dr. Bruns’

crew must overcome are the same ones we must overcome,” said Curtis. “Having her on board was a great chance to learn from one another on how to best meet the needs of our Sailors."

BALTOPS22 is the premier maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region. The exercise, led by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, and executed by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, provides a unique training opportunity to strengthen the combined response capabilities critical to preserving freedom of navigation and security in the Baltic Sea.

For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with our Allies and Partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.

Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility.  U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations. 

STRIKFORNATO, headquartered in Oeiras, Portugal, is Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s (SACEUR) premier, rapidly deployable and flexible, maritime power projection Headquarters, capable of planning and executing full spectrum joint maritime operations.