PORT OF DORALEH, Djibouti (NNS) -- USS Vicksburg (CG 69) became the first U.S. Navy ship to take on fuel at the new Defense Fuel Supply Point (DFSP) at the Port of Doraleh in Djibouti, Feb. 26.
Vicksburg's historic refueling evolution coincided with DFSP Djibouti's inaugural ceremony, which drew a star-studded audience that included Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh; U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti Marguerita Ragsdale; and Vice Adm. Patrick Walsh, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, Bahrain.
The Navy has leased several fuel storage tanks from DFSP Djibouti for the exclusive use of ships operating in and around the Horn of Africa in support of maritime security operations. By having a fuel facility available close to the crossroads of major shipping lanes, the U.S. Navy hopes to increase the flexibility of their forces.
"The multi-faceted fight against terrorism forces us to increase our vigilance and to cooperate very closely with the coalition," said Guelleh in a post-ceremony interview. "We will do everything possible along with the coalition to secure our maritime environment."
"USS Vicksburg's presence here is concrete evidence of America's confidence in the future of Djibouti, and of its confidence in the ability of Djibouti to help meet America's security needs," added Ragsdale. "You can expect to see many U.S. naval vessels refueling here in the future."
Having a refueling hub in the Horn of Africa is an invaluable logistical asset to the U.S. Navy's fight against piracy and other illegal activities in the region, according to Walsh.
"The key to being successful in [our mission] is that we develop a posture that's sustainable," he said. "This pier allows us to conduct maritime security operations in places very far away from 5th Fleet headquarters [in Bahrain] and allows us to be forward in an area that has become increasingly important to the United States and to our coalition partners."
Lt. Cmdr. Gary Leigh, executive officer of Vicksburg, said he felt honored that Vicksburg was chosen as the first warship to represent the U.S. Navy at DFSP Djibouti.
"We're honored to be here and to help boost the ties between the U.S. Navy and our host nation," said Leigh. "They've been outstanding hosts."
Vicksburg, homeported in Mayport, Fla., deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations Jan. 25.
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