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USS Mount Whitney Sailors Destined for Glory in NATO Exercise

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS051013-08
Release Date: 10/13/2005 4:56:00 PM

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

NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) began NATO maritime exercise Destined Glory (Loyal Midas) 2005 Sept. 29 in the Thyrrenian Sea and on the nearby Italian island of Sardinia.

Destined Glory (DG) is a 16-day exercise involving 40 ships, 60 aircraft and 8,500 personnel from 10 NATO countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

The exercise was a learning experience for Mount Whitney Sailors, especially those working in the ship's operations department.

"The biggest learning curve for the ship is just working with so many multinational ships,” explained Senior Chief Operations Specialist (SW) Stanford Neering, leading chief petty officer of the operations department. “For my operations specialists in particular, this has been a huge learning curve, because none of them have worked in a pseudo-battle group environment. It's fantastic for them to learn the true intricacies of their rating knowledge.”

Operations Specialist Seaman Amber Smith, who works in the ship’s Combat Information Center, agreed.

“This is very different than anything else we’ve done before,” she said. “It’s been an exhausting underway, because we have been communicating with many more ships than we usually do. This will be a worthwhile experience to help me learn more about my rating.”

The 37 operations specialists, gunner’s mates, fire controlmen and cryptologic technicians (technical) that make up the operations department are just few of about 500 American and multinational service members and civilians embarked on the amphibious joint command and control ship, including planners and designers of Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO).

“This isn’t the largest NATO exercise USS Mount Whitney has participated in, but it is the longest,” observed Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Terrence Gaffney. “We have done helicopter operations, we’ve done an underway replenishment and we’ve done a lot of maneuvering, including three days of very tight maneuvering with the rest of the NATO ships.”

Some of these maneuvers brought the ships as close as 200 yards apart, estimated Neering.

Oct. 10, participants began the unscripted free play phase of the exercise, which will run until the Oct. 14 conclusion.

“We are continuing to operate with the other NATO and multinational force units,” Neering said. “In particular, we have been assigned to work with one Italian ship.

“It’s going to be quite interesting, because since the beginning of the exercise, we have been in formation with all the other ships. Now we are working more or less with one ship to do some maritime interdiction operations and harassment exercises of the opposing force. We’ll do a little bit of counter maneuvering, and practicing what to do if and when they come into our territorial waters.”

This is the first year Mount Whitney has participated in a Destined Glory exercise, and Gaffney hopes to be able to do it again next fall.

“DG is an important exercise for a couple of reasons,” he said. “One, it allows us to operate as a NATO force. There are more than a few navies out there that we don’t normally deal with, so this allows the Mediterranean response team to actually work together and start playing as a team. In case we ever have to respond to a real world situation, we will be able to operate smoothly together.

“It also allows us to have interaction with foreign navies, see how they operate, how we operate, what they do well and what we do well.”

 



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