U.S. Navy’s Blue Ridge-class command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) on May 16 departed Gaeta, Italy, to prepare for the upcoming BALTOPS 2016.
BALTOPS is an annually recurring multinational exercise designed to demonstrate resolve of allied and partner forces to defend the Baltic region.
Mount Whitney will now be conducting unit level training until the two-week exercise starts on June 3.
The ship conducted flight operations shortly after leaving port, landing a MH-60S Seahawk helicopter, “Ghost Rider,” from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28 Det.1.
“The forward-deployed Mount Whitney Sailors and civilian mariners are dedicated to serving at sea; forward, ready, and engaged. We deploy today ready to meet all assigned tasks in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations,” said Capt. Carlos A. Sardiello, commanding officer, USS Mount Whitney.
Mount Whitney, forward deployed to Gaeta, Italy, operates with a combined crew of U.S. Navy Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners. The civil service mariners perform navigation, deck, engineering and supply service operations, while military personnel support communications, weapons systems and security. It is one of only two seaborne joint command platforms in the U.S. Navy, both of which are forward deployed.