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USS Mount Whitney Underway for NATO's Allied Action

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050517-10
Release Date: 5/17/2005 2:03:00 PM

From Commander, Naval Forces Europe/Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

GAETA, Italy (NNS) -- USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) got underway May 17 to conduct certification exercises with NATO’s Joint Command Lisbon battle staff embarked.

The exercise, Allied Action 05, is a command post exercise to practice the procedures for planning and mounting an operation based on the NATO Response Force (NRF) and Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) concepts.

This is the first operational exercise Mount Whitney is supporting since taking over as the U.S. 6th Fleet and NATO command ship. As one of the most sophisticated Command, Control, Communications, Computer, and Intelligence (C4I) ships ever commissioned, Mount Whitney incorporates various elements of the most advanced C4I equipment. This support provides the embarked commander the capability to effectively and reliably communicate with assigned forces.

“The ship stands ready to once again demonstrate our ability to serve as a state-of-the-art command and control platform for an embarked NATO battle staff,” explained Capt. Ladd Wheeler, commanding officer of Mount Whitney. “With our hybrid USN Sailor/civilian mariner crew as a backdrop, this ship is truly operating as one team to bring increased capability to the 6th Fleet area of operation.”

Mount Whitney deployed to the European theater with a new hybrid crew that includes 300 total personnel, including 157 U.S. Navy Sailors and 143 MSC civilian mariners (CIVMARS) – down from the 576 Sailor billets previously manning the ship. By supplementing the crew with CIVMARs, the Navy is operating the command ship at a reduced cost and employing captured uniformed personnel billets on forward combatant vessels.

"This is a great opportunity for us to help Joint Command Lisbon receive its NRF certification, because communications will play a big role in the success of the exercise," said Information Systems Technician 2nd Class (SW) Rachelle P. Larsen, a technician in the ship's computer information systems department.

"Working with joint communications is a challenge because we have to learn what they need and get them set up to successfully accomplish the mission," Larsen said. "It's also very rewarding. I have a lot of interaction with the NATO staff, so I learn about people and their cultures while I'm working on their computers."

Mount Whitney is homeported in Gaeta, Italy.

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