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Mount Whitney Deploys for U.S. 6th Fleet

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050121-06
Release Date: 1/21/2005 2:10:00 PM

By Journalist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Elizabeth Enockson, Naval Media Center Fleet Support Detachment Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The amphibious command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) departed Naval Station Norfolk Jan. 14 en route to Gaeta, Italy, where she will serve as the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship.

On her way out of the channel, Mount Whitney passed the current U.S. 2nd Fleet flagship, the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), which was returning from a five-day underway period to test the 2nd Fleet staff's distributed staff concept.

Mount Whitney will now be forward-deployed in Europe, after 34 years being homeported in Norfolk as the 2nd Fleet flagship.

"We're going to Europe to relieve USS La Salle (AGF 3)," said Mount Whitney Commanding Officer Capt. Christopher Wode. "La Salle has reached the end of her expected life and is going to return to Norfolk to be decommissioned in March."

While the official turnover will take place in late February, this is not the first time Mount Whitney has acted as the 6th Fleet flagship. In 1999, Mount Whitney temporarily relieved La Salle while the ship underwent repairs.

"The folks in Gaeta know Mount Whitney. They know what the ship is capable of, so they are looking forward to seeing us again," Wode said. "We're looking forward to our new homeport. The crew has been spending time indoctrinating everyone on the new homeport, learning about the culture of Italy and what living overseas in Europe is going to be like. They're very excited about the adventure."

The entire crew of Mount Whitney deployed to Gaeta. However, some will transfer to La Salle and return to the United States in place of La Salle crew members who chose to stay in Italy aboard Mount Whitney.

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