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NEWS | March 27, 2023

Allies in Action: Sicilian Leaders Visit George H.W. Bush

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Bayley Foster

President Renato Schifani, president of Sicilian Region and President of the Sicilian parliament Gaetano Galvagno along with other Italian civilian and military leaders, and U.S diplomats visited the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) at sea, March 23, 2023.

Sicily plays a vital role in the Transatlantic alliance, and it hosts three important U.S. Navy sites in Sigonella, Augusta Bay, and a communications station at Niscemi which all contribute to strengthening NATO security in the region.

"I am grateful to the United States Navy for its appreciation towards Sicily and for its commitment to protecting the security of Italy and Europe. We are aware of Sicily's strategic importance in the Mediterranean and we are also grateful to the U.S. military and NATO allies for their fundamental contribution to the security and protection of our people and our countries," said Schifani.

“It is gratifying to receive acknowledgement of the hospitality the Sicilians have always granted to the American military and appreciation for the fruitful collaboration between Sicily, Italy and the United States. My government will always bolster the friendship and strong partnership we have with the American people and institution,” he continued.

During the key leader engagement aboard George H.W. Bush, the Sicilian military and civilian leaders, and U.S. diplomats met with CSG-10, George H.W. Bush CSG leadership to discuss the importance of strong U.S.-Italian partnership.

"Italy and Europe have a crucial ally and an extraordinary friend and partner in the United States Navy. The presence of the USS George H.W. Bush offers a fundamental contribution to safeguarding security and stability in the Mediterranean," said Galvagno following his visit aboard the ship as it was sailing off the coasts of Sicily.

"I am grateful towards the U.S. Navy leadership for welcoming me aboard one of their largest aircraft carriers. I had the chance to reiterate my personal commitment, as well as that of the Sicilian parliament, to maintaining and consolidating our friendship and cooperation. I am certain that Italy, Europe and the United States will continue to stand united in their commitment towards our shared values of peace and security.”

Navy leaders aboard the ship were equally as complimentary of the opportunity to engage aboard the ship and the long-term relationship between nations.

“It was an honor to meet President Schifani to thank him, and our Italian and Sicilian partners and friends, for their long-standing support to the Alliance and our Navy,” said Rear Adm. Dennis Velez, commander, Carrier Strike Group 10, George H.W. Bush CSG. “For him and his colleagues to see, firsthand, the Sailors of the George H.W. Bush Strike Group and what they do to support stability and peace wherever they go was a great opportunity to reinforce our strong relationship, and to highlight the critical role that Sicily plays in supporting our operations in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility.”

Additionally, the visitors toured the ship’s hangar bay to observe the maintenance and teamwork required to maintain ready and capable aircraft in support of the strike group’s mission, observed ship maneuvering from the navigation bridge, and flight operations from the flight deck.

“I’ve been fortunate to live and serve in Italy with our southern Italian partners throughout my career, and this deployment built on those incredible relationships to support the Alliance,” said Capt. Dave Pollard, commanding officer, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). “Whether it is supplies we get from ships coming out of Augusta Bay, aircraft and logistics support from Naval Air Station Sigonella, or support and care from Naval Hospital Sigonella, it is due to the graciousness of our Sicilian hosts. Our team is grateful for the continued support we get from Sicilians.”

CSG-10, George H.W. Bush CSG, is on a scheduled deployment in the NAVEUR-NAVAF 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 Leyte Gulf.

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 VAQ-140, and the “Grandmasters” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46.

For over 80 years, NAVEUR-NAVAF has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.