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By Ensign Paula Niederland
The U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), and embarked staff from Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, arrived in Antalya, Türkiye for a scheduled port visit, Aug. 25, 2023.
This port visit is the capital ship’s fourth stop while deployed to the U.S. Naval Forces Europe (NAVEUR) area of operations, and provides an opportunity to enhance the strong partnership between the U.S. and Türkiye.
Prior to arriving in Antalya, the Gerald R. Ford Strike Group (GRFCSG) 72s conducted a series of coordinated events with Turkish Navy ships (TCG) Anadolu, Goksu, Gediz, Imbat, Meltem, Burakreis, and Turkish Air Force F-16s, KC-135s, and P-72s to enhance partner interoperability and demonstrate commitment to security in the Mediterranean.
“The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group operated with our partners in the Turkish Navy and Air Force executing a series of multi-domain exercises prior to our arrival in Antalya,” said Rear Adm. Erik J. Eslich, Commander, Carrier Strike Group 12. “The exercises strengthened the bond we share with Türkiye and enhanced our common understanding of maritime tactics and procedures advancing interoperability objectives. Additionally, our collective efforts reinforce our shared goals of promoting peace and stability in the region.”
The U.S. Navy routinely operates with its Turkish Allies, and Ford’s visit to Antalya comes shortly after the U.S. Sixth Fleet Command Ship, USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), visited Istanbul, and while the guided-missile cruiser, USS Normandy (CG 60), visits Aksaz.
Before arriving in Antalya, Gerald R. Ford hosted key government and military leaders aboard to observe the first-in-class aircraft carrier’s operations at sea. Guests experienced Gerald R. Ford’s capabilities firsthand, witnessing the launch and recovery of embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 aircraft from the flight deck, touring the ship’s aircraft maintenance repair facilities, and meeting with GRFCSG Sailors and leadership.
Gerald R. Ford is anchored off the coast of Antalya and will again host local officials and military leaders for a dinner to celebrate the strong, extensive alliance between the U.S. and Türkiye. The port call also provides Gerald R. Ford Sailors the opportunity to experience Türkiye’s rich history and culture.
“This visit is a great opportunity for the Sailors of USS Gerald R. Ford, Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 8, and Destroyer Squadron 2 to engage with a key ally on a personal level and experience Turkish culture,” said Gerald R. Ford Commanding Officer Capt. Rick Burgess. “Our crew is excited to enjoy a beautiful nation and sightsee in a city so rich in history.”
The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG) is conducting a scheduled deployment in U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations, demonstrating the commitment and power projection capability of the Navy’s globally deployed force. The GRFCSG provides an inherently flexible naval force capable of deploying across combatant commands to meet emerging missions, deter potential adversaries, reassure allies and partners, enhance security and guarantee the free flow of global commerce. In total, the GRFCSG is deployed with more than 5,000 Sailors across all platforms ready to respond globally to combatant commander tasking.
The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group consists of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 8, Destroyer Squadron 2, USS Normandy (CG 60), USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS McFaul (DDG 74), and USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116).