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By Ensign Karolyn Batista, USS Paul Ignatius Public Affairs Officer
In an era of increasing global security challenges, the importance of international cooperation and interoperability among naval forces cannot be overstated.
The ability of different navies to seamlessly work together is crucial for maintaining peace, conducting joint operations, and responding effectively to emerging threats. The French frigate Languedoc, an Aquitaine-class multi-mission frigate, and USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117), an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, recently demonstrated exceptional interoperability while underway in the Mediterranean Sea.
On July 20, 2023, Capt. Ed Sundberg, Commodore, Task Force 65 and Cmdr. Corry W. Lougee, Commanding Officer, USS Paul Ignatius, visited Languedoc and had lunch with Languedoc’s commanding officer, Captain Laurent Saunois.
“Operating with FS Languedoc was a tremendous opportunity to execute high-end warfighting rehearsals with an extremely capable Ally to greatly enhance our interoperability,” said Sundberg. “CTF 65 looks forward to future opportunities and operations with our French Allies.”
Joint training exercises are a cornerstone of interoperability between the Allied navies, a point emphasized by Languedoc and Paul Ignatius. These exercises provide an opportunity for sailors from both navies to work together, understand each other's capabilities, and develop a shared understanding of operational tactics.
Through these exercises, the crews of both vessels learn to operate seamlessly as a unified force, maximizing their combined potential.
“It was an absolute pleasure operating side-by-side with FS Languedoc. Executing a high pace, Surface Action Group (SAG) exercise with the French Navy allowed us to learn so much from each other and gain insightful lessons to improve future bi-lateral events,” said Lougee. “Every serial, from transiting in a formation through the Strait of Messina to executing a complex gunnery exercise, greatly improved our working relationship with the French Navy, but I find the Sailor exchanges the most important. Commodore Sundberg and I were fortunate enough to have lunch with Captain Saunois onboard Languedoc and it was quite the experience. Not only did we get to enjoy an amazing meal, but we were able to get to know each other on a personal level. This bonding takes place at all levels as we sent Sailors to their ship and they sent some of their crew to Paul Ignatius. The pride my Sailors display when providing personalized tours for our French guests as well as the smiles on their faces when they return from visiting an allied warship shows me the positive impact it has on each individual, my ship, our navy, and ultimately the nation.”
Paul Ignatius, a member of Forward Deployed Naval Forces-Europe (FDNF-E), is on a scheduled patrol in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) area of operations. FDNF-E destroyers routinely 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. Paul Ignatius is one of four U.S. Navy destroyers based at Naval Station Rota, Spain, and assigned to Commander, Task Force 65 in support of NATO’s Integrated Air Missile Defense architecture.
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.