LCC 20 Mount Whitney
The USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) is Second Fleet's flagship. During quarterly joint task force exercises, Mount Whitney trains carrier battle groups preparing to deploy for six-month cruises to the Mediterranean Sea.
The USS Mount Whitney is the most sophisticated command, control, communications, computer and intelligence ship ever commissioned. The ship can receive and transmit large amounts of secure data from any point on Earth through various communications paths. The ship can carry 450 enlisted personnel and officers and is armed with two 20 mm Close-In Weapons Systems, chaff rockets, 25 mm chain guns and .50-caliber machine guns.
The contract to build the USS Mount Whitney was awarded on August 10, 1966. The keel was laid on January 08 1970 and the ship was launched a year later. LCC 20 was commissioned on January 16, 1971, but developed a reputation for rarely deploying.
Since commissioning, Mount Whitney has contributed to many operations and exercises throughout the world, including contingency operations during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. In 1983, Mount Whitney took part in search and rescue operations for crew members of a downed F-14 crew members and aided in saving two members of a yacht stranded by Hurricane Kate. In July 1989, the ship hosted the first Soviet visit to a U.S. port in Norfolk.
Mount Whitney served as the command ship for all U.S. forces involved in the restoration of democracy to Haiti during Operations Support and Uphold Democracy. The ship has also participated in NATO exercises Deep Furrow 71 and Strong Resolve 95.
After a journey that lasted morethan five months and 19,800 miles, and included 10 port visits to six different countries, USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) has completed the ship's first-ever Mediterranean deployment. On May 19, 1999, Mount Whitney departed Norfolk, Va. to relieve USS La Salle (AGF 3) as Command and Control Platform for Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, homeported in Gaeta, Italy.
In the five months the ship was deployed to the Mediterranean, the crew achieved several milestones. Mount Whitney provided a seagoing base of operations for the Sixth Fleet staff during operations in Kosovo. Mount Whitney maintained constant, real-time communications with NATO vessels in their area-of-responsibility and coordinated Kosovo war efforts, including the planning of strategic Tomahawk missile strikes.
The ship also hosted several events geared toward diplomatic relations between the United States and its allies. In Malta, Mount Whitney hosted a highly successful diplomatic reception for more than 800 guests including dignitaries, government officials, foreign nationals.
The Joint Command Ship then made history by becoming the first Navy ship since 1962 to moor pierside in Algeria. While there, the crew hosted another diplomatic reception as the U.S. Ambassador to Algeria met with Algerian heads of state. In addition, selected crewmembers were able to enjoy tours of Algiers. The ship not only spearheaded improved diplomatic ties, but also lent a helping hand with several worthwhile community relations projects throughout the Mediterranean.
In Naples, Italy, Mount Whitney hosted the annual gala to benefit the United Service Organization (USO). Funds raised by the gala enable the Naples USO to provide a myriad of services for military members throughout Southern Italy. With more than 600 guests in attendance, the event raised over $30,000 for the USO. Crewmembers helped clean and maintain the Barcelona Senior Center during a stop in the Spanish city. During a port visit to Valetta, Malta, flagship sailors painted a local three-story building and helped repair a children's arts and crafts center. In Gaeta, Mount Whitney officers and crew completed extensive improvements to the Department of Defense school and to a women's health care and day care center.
During the transit from Norfolk to the Mediterranean, Mount Whitney even came to the aid of a sailboat in distress. The ship assisted the stranded French sailboat, Calasanjy with fuel and technical assistance, and medical assistance to the two people stranded onboard. Mount Whitney's deployment was a tremendous success. It's mission for Sixth Fleet now accomplished, the ship resumed its duties as Flagship for Commander, U.S. Second Fleet in Norfolk.
The commander of NATO's Striking Fleet Atlantic (CSFL), Vice Adm. Mike Mullen, hosted more than 50 NATO officials 21 June 2001 aboard the CSFL flagship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20). This year's theme was "Transforming NATO's Military Capability: Joint Combat Operations." Seminar attendees were treated to an up-close look at the staff's Area Air Defense Control System (AADC), which Mullen referred to as representative of "the air defense capability of the future." The AADC module is an advanced planning and execution tool for a commander to perform duties as the area air defense commander during a joint or combined operation. A significant improvement in automation allows reduction in the size of the staff that would be required to perform this role. The 3-D representation of the battle space, coupled with the easily understood track symbols greatly increases situational awareness and understanding. Air defense plans can be tested by computer generated threats within minutes, adjusted and then tested again. The installation in Mount Whitney is one of two deployed prototype systems developed by the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University. The second installation is aboard USS Shiloh (CG 67), an Aegis cruiser homeported in San Diego.
On 12 November 2002 the Mount Whitney became the first Norfolk-based vessel to embark on an unscheduled overseas cruise in support of the war on terrorism. This was only the second time in the ship's 31-year history that it has gone on a non-training deployment. The first was in 1994 for an operation in Haiti. This deployment embarked elements of the 2nd Marine Division and II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF), based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., under the command of Maj. Gen. John F. Sattler.
Commander, 2nd Fleet embarked a contingent of 48 staff personnel aboard USS Mount Whitney in support of the CJTF commander.
USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) departed Naval Station Norfolk on Jan. 14, 2005 en route to Gaeta, Italy, where she was to serve as the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship and to relieve USS La Salle (AGF 3). Mount Whitney would as a result now be forward-deployed in Europe, after 34 years being homeported in Norfolk as the 2nd Fleet flagship.
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