Since leaving Villefranche, France in 1967, the US Sixth Fleet flagship has resided in Gaeta, Italy. The Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea encompasses task forces, battle groups, amphibious forces, support ships, land-based surveillance aircraft, and submarines. Its role has been important since the early 19th century to the US Navy's commitment to forward presence. The Sixth Fleet Flag Ship Command, Control and Communications Ship USS LASALLE (AGF 3) is homeported in Gaeta. As homeport to its flagship, Gaeta hosts the staff of Sixth Fleet as well as US Naval Support Activity, Gaeta.
Gaeta's relationship with the US Navy did not start in 1967. Long before the USS Little Rock sailed into Gaeta's harbor, Pope Pius IX and Ferdinand II, King of the two Kingdoms of Sicily, paid visit to the USS Constitution in 1849. Eight flagships later, the ties between the Italian and American communities have strengthened as Americans come to Gaeta eager to experience a new culture and make new friends.
As a forward-deployed unit, the USS LaSalle's primary mission is to provide command ship facilities and support to Commander, Sixth Fleet (COMSIXTHFLT), and his embarked staff. The LaSalle assumed the role of command ship for the US Sixth Fleet on November 8, 1994, bringing expanded capabilities to the fleet. With the ability and space available to embark a Joint Task Force staff, when necessary, LaSalle greatly increases the flexibility of the US Sixth Fleet commander and his staff. Additionally, LaSalle has been outfitted with state-of-the-art communication, command, and control electronic equipment. Any operation or exercise involving sea, air, land, and amphibious forces can be controlled and directed from the flagship while at sea or in port. This further increases the US Sixth Fleet's capability to respond to crisis or contingency operations.
The primary mission of Naval Support Activity Gaeta is to provide and maintain facilities and services to support the Sixth Fleet Staff and USS LaSalle personnel, along with their families stationed in the Gaeta area. In addition, Naval Support Activity Gaeta also supports a NATO telecommunications school (NCISS) located approximately 50 miles north of Gaeta in the province of Latina.
The Naval Support Activity is located in the town of Gaeta, which is situated between Rome and Naples. Formerly a detachment of Naval Support Activity Naples, Naval Support Activity Detachment Gaeta began operations on January 13, 1967. On January 28, 1994, the establishment of Naval Support Activity Gaeta as an independent command on site in Gaeta became official. Today, base support facilities are located on a hill called Monte Orlando overlooking the Gulf of Gaeta.
The majority of American personnel and families live in town or in the nearby vicinity (Formia, Itri, and Vindicio) in apartments, and in some houses although yards are rare. Prices range anywhere between Lit. 400.000 to 1.500.000 ($280 to $1000 and more per month). Gaeta is by no means a poor area in fact it is a European seaside resort, therefore prices are rather steep as well. Stock up on your favorite items especially women's lingerie and children's clothes and bring plenty of catalogs. This sleepy town (in the winter) pushes people towards the mountains to enjoy "la settimana bianca" which is a week of skiing, and its rainless summers attract people to its numerous beaches along the coastline. Gaeta is nearer to Naples than to Rome, and it is situated in the middle of both cities. People who are used to a metropolitan lifestyle will find these two cities a home away from home. The American community also enjoys the luxury of listening and viewing AFN radio/TV (the only American station available) while stationed in Gaeta. In order to alleviate the discomfort of transferring to an overseas duty station, the Family Service Center offers monthly installation and community orientation classes.
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