The US Navy’s guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) returned to its Naval Station Norfolk homeport on Sept. 20 after a six-month deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet Area of Operations.
Vella Gulf, homeported in Norfolk, Va., deployed March 14, 2014, to conduct naval operations with allies and regional partners in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.
During the course of her deployment, Vella Gulf conducted naval exercises with partners in the region. Evolutions included joint visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations, live-fire proficiency, aviation operations, personnel exchanges, shiphandling exercises, and flag hoist drills.
Vella Gulf also had the unique opportunity to host several VIPs, including a visit from the Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Chuck Hagel, in Constanta, Romania. In Batumi, Georgia, the ship hosted distinguished guests Prime Minister of the Republic of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, Georgian Minister of Defense, Iraklii Alasania, and U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland.
She conducted 15 port visits to 9 different countries, to include Scotland, Italy, Cyprus, Israel, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Turkey, and Georgia. These visits served the purpose of enhancing relations with each of these countries while affording the crew the opportunity to explore their culture and history.
Press Release, September 21, 2014; Image: US Navy