USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) is currently participating in Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2012, an invitational joint and combined exercise designed to enhance multinational maritime capabilities and interoperability, and improve involvement in the larger Baltic region theater security cooperation strategy.
The object of BALTOPS 2012 is to promote mutual understanding, confidence, cooperation and interoperability among forces and personnel of participating nations.
Since 2004, command and control ship, Mount Whitney has participated in BALTOPS as the flagship for U.S. 6th Fleet. This year the ship hosts personnel from four other commands: Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28 Det. 1 (HSC-28 a.k.a. Ghostrider), Strike Force NATO and U.S. 6th Fleet.
“The Mount Whitney is in fantastic condition and the crew is as well trained as ever,” said Capt. Ted Williams, commanding officer, Mount Whitney. “It’s a pleasure and an honor to have all the different staffs aboard the ship conducting BALTOPS 2012.”
One of the commands participating in the exercise aboard Mount Whitney, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, is responsible for the conduct of all amphibious and expeditionary actions from the east coast of the U.S. to the Mediterranean Sea. They perform multiple functions for this exercise, including acting as a liaison for Rear Adm. Ann C. Phillips, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, who is participating in the exercise from USS Normandy (CG 60), which is currently underway in the Baltic Sea.
“We try to do BALTOPS every other year onboard USS Mount Whitney,” said Marine Corps Col. Bradley Weisz, deputy commander, ESG-2. “This gives the ESG-2 staff an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the ins and outs of a ship that we don’t normally get to sail on.”
During a speech given on the flight deck of the Mount Whitney, Vice Adm. Frank C. Pandolfe said that next year, U.S. 6th Fleet would take the lead on the exercise instead of Strike Force NATO, and that both commands will trade off leading the exercise every other year.
“Next year won’t change any of our responsibilities on USS Mount Whitney,” said Williams. “The biggest change is we will see more personnel from 6th Fleet than from Strike Force NATO.”
Mount Whitney is a Blue Ridge-class command ship and is the flagship for the U.S. 6th Fleet. Mount Whitney is homeported in Gaeta, Italy, and operates with a hybrid crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift civil service mariners.
Naval Today Staff , June 10, 2012