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NEWS | July 10, 2023

U.S. Sixth Fleet, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO kick off Neptune Strike 2023-2

By U.S. Sixth Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO

The U.S. Navy's Sixth Fleet and NATO's Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) commenced Neptune Strike 2023-2 (NEST 23.2), the latest iteration of the Project Neptune series of enhanced vigilance activity, July 10, 2023.

As in previous editions of Neptune Strike, including NEST 23.1in February 2023, NEST 23.2 will involve the transfer of authority (TOA) of assigned national forces to STRIKFORNATO and NATO command and control. Allied forces will execute a variety of evolutions in support of enhanced vigilance activity objectives throughout European airspace, waterways, and territory.

"Transferring Allied units to NATO's control is becoming business as usual for our NATO Alliance," said Vice Adm. Thomas Ishee, commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet and STRIKFORNATO. "The Project Neptune series allows us to continue honing our ability to operate together with a variety of units and nations in all domains in Europe. Weeks after Formidable Shield and BALTOPS, Sixth Fleet and STRIKFORNATO's ability to execute Neptune Strike 23-2 underscores our combined capacity and interoperability."

During NEST 23.2, the world's largest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), will come under NATO command for the second time in two months. The ship and its associated strike group reported to STRIKFORNATO while sailing in the Norwegian Sea in early June.

In addition to Gerald R. Ford, multiple Allied units, including the Italian Navy’s aircraft carrier ITS Garibaldi (C551) and Allied ships, aircraft and land units, will join the activity, reinforcing the interchangeability of Allied Forces and the agility of NATO command and control structures.

NEST 23.2 continues the natural evolution of NATO’s ability to command and control forces across Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s (SACEUR) Area of Responsibility. The enhanced vigilance activity constitutes a tangible, transparent display of advanced capabilities in all-domain operations and the defensive commitment of the NATO Alliance.

“As we continue to advance the Project Neptune series of vigilance activities, we increasingly demonstrate the flexibility, agility, and dynamism of our 31 Allied nations in all-domain operations,” said Rear Adm. James Morley, Deputy Commander, STRIKFORNATO. “Through this series, we coalesce combat credible maritime forces from multiple nations in multiple regions simultaneously, all united in a common purpose in support of the Alliance.”

Enhanced Vigilance Activities are day-to-day activities, occurring in all domains and across SACEUR’s area of responsibility, to ensure appropriate strategic awareness and force readiness required to sustain peace.

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.

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.