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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cameron Edy
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) departed the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa area of operations, marking the end of her time as a Forward Deployed Naval Forces-Europe (FDNF-E) Destroyer, Sept. 6, 2022.
USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117), named after Paul Ignatius who served as the Secretary of the navy from 1967 to 1969, replaced Ross in the third of four scheduled homeport shifts to occur in support of the U.S. Navy’s long-range plan to gradually rotate the Rota-based destroyers. USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) replaced USS Carney (DDG 64) in the first homeport shift and USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) replaced USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) in the second.
"Ross and her crew performed admirably while operating as a FDNF-E destroyer," said Capt. Ed Sundberg, Commander, Destroyer Squadron 60 and Task Force 65. "For eight years, the entire Ross team stood shoulder to shoulder with our allies and partners building interoperability and bolstering capabilities by playing critical roles in exercises and operations."
Ross joined USS Donald Cook in June 2014 as the first two Rota-based FDNF-E destroyers under Commander, Task Force (CTF) 65. Upon arrival to C6F, Ross executed her first patrol in the Baltic Sea participating in Sea Breeze with Ukraine, strengthening our presence and partnerships.
After 12 patrols while assigned to U.S. Sixth Fleet, Ross wrapped up her final patrol in the Mediterranean strengthening our alliances and partnerships while operating alongside NATO Allies and regional partners, during the onset of the Russian invasion into Ukraine. Ross’s contribution as an FDNF-E ship has demonstrated our enduring commitment to our NATO allies and our partners.
Ross’ commitment to NATO Allies and regional partners extended well beyond the Mediterranean. During her 8 years sailing from Rota, Spain, Ross frequented exercises and operations with allies in the Black Sea, Baltic Sea, Barents, Artic Circle, and off the Coast of Africa and visited numerous countries.
“Today’s challenges require strong alliances and partnerships that demonstrate our integration and interoperability capabilities. I am extremely grateful for for the opportunities Ross has had, and humbled to have the privilege serving overseas with such a phenomenal crew,” said Cmdr. Scott Jones, Ross’ commanding officer. “Our experiences in Sixth Fleet have been priceless, and we will not soon forget the lessons we have learned, or the friendships we have made, as we set sail to Norfolk.”
The agility and capabilities of the Arleigh Burke class destroyer has made it an ideal platform to integrate and strengthen relations with regional allies and partners.
Throughout Ross’ time in U.S. Sixth Fleet, the ship participated in previous iterations of Exercise Sea Breeze, Breeze, African Lion, FOST, BALTOPs, Formidable Shield, and other multi-lateral maritime training opportunities with partners to include Cyprus, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Morocco, Norway, Romania, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. Mission sets during these exercises included surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, anti-air warfare, and strike warfare scenarios that focus on maintaining maritime stability and security.
Ross has many notable milestones to reflect on to include, launching 35 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles alongside the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78), ensuring the freedom and national security of allied nations, establishing a presence in the Arctic Circle, spending 35 days in the high north reinforcing the United States’ commitment to regional security and stability in the region and participating with over 30 counties in exercise Sea Breeze establishing a unified front in the Black Sea. Her milestones continued with, conducting lifesaving emergency search-and-rescue operations for a civilian Turkish vessel in the Sea of Marmara saving three lives, and fully integrating into the French, Charles De Gaulle Carrier Strike group to support Operation Inherent Resolve.
“Being forward deployed out of Rota, Spain gave me great opportunities to travel and experience new cultures,” said Sonar Technician (Surface) 3rd Class Petty Officer Dusten Salas. “He is grateful for the opportunity to work with the Charles de Gaulle Strike group.”
Ross completed one final underway to the Baltic Sea to ensure freedom of navigation of the high seas by establishing its presence and working with NATO allies in the region.
Named after Medal of Honor recipient, Donald Kirby Ross for his action during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Ross is scheduled to return to its former homeport of Norfolk, VA.
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.