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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeremy Boan, Carrier Strike Group 10 Public Affairs
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) – along with the embarked staff of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10 and George H.W. Bush CSG – arrived in Marseille, France, for a scheduled port visit, Dec. 29, 2022.
The port visit provides an opportunity to enhance the already strong U.S.-French partnership as the two nations work together for a stable, secure, and prosperous Europe. It also allows the Sailors of George H.W. Bush CSG a chance to experience French culture.
“It is with great pleasure that the French Navy welcomes the aircraft carrier USS Bush and its 5,000 sailors to Marseille,” said French Rear Adm. Lionel Mathieu, commanding officer of the Marseille Naval Fire Battalion, Marine Fire Battalion School, and Navy in Marseille. “In France, only Marseille is in the position to welcome an American aircraft carrier, with all the logistical and security challenges that this represents.”
Located on the southern coast of France, Marseille is one of France’s oldest cities and largest sea ports.
“As the Commanding Officer of the Marseille Naval Fire Battalion, welcoming the USS Bush is an opportunity to underscore the historical importance of the link that unites us with the U.S. Navy, a link that is marked by a two-hundred-year-old cooperation: since Chesapeake Bay and up to the present days, we have been writing a lasting history through our exchanges and joint operations,” said Mathieu.
The cooperation Mathieu refers to is one of the oldest alliances between two nations on the European and American continents. From the U.S. War of Independence to the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and present day operations, similar security challenges and opportunities in the French-U.S. relationship have helped form the core of their mutually beneficial partnership.
"The relationship between the United States and France is as old as our republic itself," said Rear Adm. Dennis Velez, commander, CSG-10, George H.W. Bush CSG. "We work closely with our French allies as demonstrated during our recent multi-carrier operations with the French Carrier Strike Group and the Italian Carrier Strike Group.”
In late November, the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group operated with two NATO Carrier Strike Groups (CSG) in the Ionian Sea, demonstrating collective commitment to the security and stability of the Euro-Atlantic Area. Multicarrier activities demonstrated the coordination of dispersed allied and partner forces to train and operate in a joint, high-intensity security environment across all domains in the region.
During multicarrier operations, French Rafale fighter jets and U.S. aviation assets swapped decks – underscoring shared commitment and a shift toward interchangeability among allies that goes a step further than interoperability – a critical component to integrated deterrence and defense of the alliance.
“We look forward to building upon the relationship we have with France at sea during our time in in port in Marseille," said Velez.
In Marseille, George H.W. Bush will host local officials and key leaders for a protocol event to honor the U.S.-French relationship. Additionally, Sailors from the ship will take much deserved time off to experience the cities of Marseille and Paris. The ship’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) is offering a variety of tours for Sailors to experience Marseille as well as the surrounding areas.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Avengers of George Herbert Walker Bush to spend New Year’s in the beautiful cities of Marseille and Paris, France,” said Capt. Dave Pollard, commanding officer of George H.W. Bush. “These warriors have been working tirelessly and are excited to explore the country of one of our oldest allies. As ambassadors of the United States, Team Avenger is looking forward to recharging in France.”
Sailors will also have the opportunity to participate in a Thousand Points of Light community relations events organized with and through local officials – a nod to President George H.W. Bush’s inaugural address and the service-oriented organization that exists still today.
CSG-10, George H.W. Bush CSG, is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., allied and partner interests.
George H.W. Bush is the flagship of CSG-10, George H.W. Bush CSG. George H.W. Bush CSG is comprised of George H.W. Bush, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26, the Information Warfare Commander, and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55).
The ships of DESRON-26 within CSG-10 are the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Nitze (DDG 94), USS Farragut (DDG 99), USS Truxtun (DDG 103), and USS Delbert D. Black (DDG 119).
The squadrons of CVW-7 embarked aboard George H.W. Bush are the “Jolly Rogers” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 103, the “Pukin Dogs” of VFA-143, the “Bluetails” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121, the “Nightdippers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5, the “Sidewinders” of VFA-86, the “Nighthawks” of VFA-136, the “Patriots” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140, and the “Grandmasters” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46.
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.