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Military

Mount Whitney Sets Sail for Destined Glory

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050930-17
Release Date: 9/30/2005 5:00:00 PM

By Journalist 1st Class Eric Brown, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) steamed out of her Gaeta, Italy, homeport Sept. 28 to take part in Destined Glory (Loyal Midas) 2005, a multinational crisis response exercise that began the next day.

Ten NATO countries will provide about 8,500 personnel, 39 ships and 60 aircraft for the sea, land and air exercise on the Italian island of Sardinia and in the adjacent waters of the Tyrrenian Sea.

This is the first time Mount Whitney, which changed homeports from Norfolk, Va., to Gaeta in late February, has participated in the annual Destined Glory exercise.

The amphibious command/joint command ship will have several functions during the exercise, said commanding officer Capt. Ladd Wheeler.

“Principally, we are housing Strike Force NATO, the exercise direction team,” he said. “We provide them with a seaborne shelter from which they can conduct command and control.

"We will also serve as a test bed and an execution platform for some electronic warfare evolutions that are going on,” he said.

For this, Mount Whitney will employ NATO-specific jamming gear used to add realistic adversity to ships participating in the exercise.

“Beyond those two things, we are still the 6th Fleet flagship, so throughout this evolution we will continue to do U.S. national taskings on a daily basis,” added Wheeler.

Participating ships include aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates, mine countermeasures vessels, and nuclear- and conventionally-powered submarines from Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

“They will be conducting a range of missions and defense exercises such as counter-submarine reconnaissance exercises, fighting in the littoral areas and defensive maritime interdiction,” explained British Marine Col. Jim Hutton, the exercise’s director. “You name it, we’ll be practicing it.”

Although Mount Whitney is new to the region, she has already participated in three NATO exercises this year, and Wheeler is confident the ship will perform well in Destined Glory, the largest NATO amphibious exercise of 2005.

“It’s a challenge to participate in an event like this only because a command ship tends to be an independent operator,” he said. “The ship intends to do a fair amount of steaming in the company of various NATO platforms, including Spanish and Italian aircraft carriers, and an Italian Marine Force flagship.”

About 150 additional personnel aboard will join Mount Whitney’s hybrid crew of 330 Sailors and civilian mariners for Destined Glory, including about 135 members of NATO Strike Force.

The ship has a unique mission in carrying the flags of three different commands: Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, Joint Command Lisbon, and Strike Force NATO.

“We are the only ship that is designated as a joint command and control ship, and because of that, we are very good at supporting varying embarking staff,” Wheeler said. “We are also well-known for our reliability. Despite the fact that this ship is 36 years old, thus far we have met every commitment we have been asked to undertake in the last seven months. Because of our successes, we are very sought-after, and I don’t see that changing any time in the near future.

“I’m very proud of the crew. They have been very resilient," Wheeler added. "It is a tough job that they have, to support the varying organizations that want and need our time."

These assets make Mount Whitney well prepared for Destined Glory (Loyal Midas) 2005, which will conclude Oct. 14.

 



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