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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Trey Fowler
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117) arrived in its new homeport of Naval Station Rota, Spain, as the U.S. Navy’s newest Forward Deployed Naval Forces–Europe (FDNF-E) destroyer, June 17, 2022.
Prior to arriving in Rota, Paul Ignatius operated alongside British, Canadian, French, German, and Norwegian allies as part of exercises Cable Car and Green Light. The ship also conducted port visits in Ponta Delgada, Portugal and Bergen, Norway. In the Baltic Sea, Paul Ignatius integrated with the 2nd Marine Division and the Kearsarge Amphibious Readiness Group with embarked Amphibious Squadron Six and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. The ship also conducted interoperability exercises with the USS Sioux City (LCS 11) during the inaugural deployment of a Freedom Class Littoral Combat Ship to Fifth and Sixth Fleet areas of operation.
“We certainly met and exceeded our goals,” said Cmdr. Aaron Arky, commanding officer of Paul Ignatius. “I couldn't be more proud of the team as they superbly conducted undersea, air-defense and expeditionary operations during this patrol.”
Commissioned in 2019, Paul Ignatius is the second of eight Flight IIA "technology insertion" ships, bringing enhanced capability and technological advancements to U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Destroyer Squadron 60. The ship is the 67th Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, a class capable of conducting a variety of missions from sea control and power projection to peacetime presence and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
The ship’s arrival in Rota brings substantial capabilities to the FDNF-E force already in place. Arriving to their new homeport also allows Paul Ignatius Sailors the opportunity to get acquainted with their new duty station and to reunite with their families, many of whom have already arrived in Rota.
“The uniqueness of this homecoming cannot be understated, as we are both returning to our families and arriving at our new homeport,” said Arky. “The tremendous support network established by Naval Station Rota and Destroyer Squadron 60 has immensely helped the families and Sailors alike. For that, we are grateful.”
The ship’s arrival to Rota is one of several scheduled homeport shifts to occur in support of the U.S. Navy’s long-range plan to gradually rotate the Rota-based destroyers. The arrival also coincides with the arrival of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 79, which will provide rotary-wing mission capabilities to the FDNF-E destroyers.
Paul Ignatius will operate under Commander, Task Force 65 and Destroyer Squadron 60 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.
The ship is named after Paul Ignatius, who served as Secretary of the Navy under President Lyndon Johnson from 1967 to 1969. Ignatius had previously served as a commissioned Lieutenant in the Navy during World War II.
For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with 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.