KIEL, Germany (NNS) -- Staff members attached to U.S. 2nd Fleet embarked aboard U.S. 6th Fleet command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), June 6.
U.S. 2nd Fleet, commanded by Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, will join the Mount Whitney to lead Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS), marking the first time the Fleet will operate in the European theater.
“This is a reunion 15 years in the making,” said Capt. Cassidy Norman, Mount Whitney’s commanding officer. “Much of the 48 years of Mount Whitney’s commissioned service has spent as the flagship for 2nd Fleet. We couldn’t be more excited about embarking Vice Admiral Lewis and his staff to execute BALTOPS 2019 from aboard the Mount Whitney.”
BALTOPS is an annual joint, multinational maritime-focused exercise scheduled for June 9-21, 2019 with 18 countries represented and over 8,000 participants. It is designed to strengthen partner relationships, enhance flexibility and interoperability, and demonstrate resolve among allied and partner forces in defending the Baltic Sea region. The exercise will involve maritime, ground, and air forces to strengthen combined response capabilities necessary to ensure regional stability.
“I am honored to be hosted aboard the USS Mount Whitney for the execution of BALTOPS 2019,” Lewis said. “This exercise is our collective opportunity to promote peace and security through cooperation, collaboration, interoperability, and an unambiguous display of strength in the Baltic region, and the Mount Whitney’s capabilities make her the perfect platform from which to command the exercise.”
Combined Task Force 162, commanded by Rear Admiral Andrew Burns, OBE, commander of the United Kingdom Maritime Forces and deputy commander of the exercise, also embarked Mount Whitney. Additional representatives from Carrier Strike Group 2, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center are also aboard in support of BALTOPS 2019.
U.S. 2nd Fleet commands ships, aircraft and landing forces assigned in the North Atlantic and Arctic. Additionally, it plans and conducts maritime, joint and combined operations as well as trains and recommends certification of combat ready naval forces for maritime employment and operations around the globe.
Mount Whitney, forward deployed to Gaeta, Italy, operates with a combined crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.