GAETA, Italy (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet; and the crew of USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) held a holiday reception for more than 100 distinguished guests from its homeport of Gaeta, Dec. 11.
"As we enter the holiday season and I think about the things I am thankful for, I thought it would be appropriate to hold this reception in honor of the city of Gaeta for all you have done for the U.S. Navy," said Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander, U.S. 6th Fleet. "Gaeta has been the home to the U.S. 6th Fleet flagships for nearly 43 years and although my staff is no longer based in Gaeta, we always look forward to the opportunities that bring us to this beautiful city."
The event provided an opportunity to strengthen the rich bond between the community of Gaeta and Mount Whitney following a year of numerous underway periods.
During the reception, Harris quoted the Italian military hero Giuseppe Garibaldi who once said, "Give me the ready hand rather than the ready tongue."
Harris then talked about the friendship between the two countries who have shared the same strategic goals and desires for the past 60 years.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the bottom line is both of our countries have the ultimate desire for greater stability in the region, and we, the United States, appreciate Italy's 'ready hand,'" said Harris.
Mount Whitney has spent more then 180 days away from its homeport this year conducting numerous exercises such as FRUKUS, Baltic Operations and Jackal Stone.
"We miss the Mount Whitney when it's not in Gaeta," said Laila Volpe, Navy League president. "This event has gotten people together again, and we are certainly looking forward to a great friendship."
Senior leaders aboard Mount Whitney agree that close ties with Gaeta are an important part of succeeding in today's maritime environment.
"Mount Whitney's crew values the strong relationship with the Gaeta community," said Capt. Jeffrey Ruth, USS Mount Whitney commanding officer. "The local community supports us in so many ways, they take care of our families when we are away, and they take care of our ship when we are inport. We are neighbors and we always want to strengthen that bond."
Mount Whitney, an amphibious command ship, is the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship and operates with a hybrid crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.