The guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87), part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (Ike CSG), and the embarked detachment from the Swamp Foxes of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74 concluded a multi-day port visit to Naval Station (NAVSTA) Rota, Spain, Dec. 11.
The port visit comes after Mason escorted the amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17) and embarked Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) through the western Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar for a scheduled agricultural wash down and vehicle inspection.
San Antonio spent more than 40 days supporting Operation Odyssey Lightning, conducting precision air strikes against Da’esh targets in support of Libyan forces in Sirte, Libya.
“While Rota was an unscheduled visit for us due to emergent repairs, we were still able to afford many of the crew some time off,” said Cmdr. Christopher J. Gilbertson, from Minneapolis, commanding officer of Mason.
NAVSTA Rota is a strategically located, Spanish owned, jointly operated base that provides logical and operational support to NATO ships, aircraft and units.
NAVSTA Rota’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR), in cooperation with Mason’s MWR committee, sponsored an evening of cultural fun with a tour of a bodega, wine tasting and enjoying a show of the local Flamenco dance.
Sailors and Marines also enjoyed other MWR-sponsored facilities, such as the theater, golf course, liberty center, library, bowling alley, indoor pool, fitness center and dining at the many available restaurants throughout the base.
Sailors and Marines of Mason and San Antonio were able to enjoy and relax together while reaching out to family, friends and loved ones for the holidays while making use of NAVSTA Rota resources and facilities, such as the Navy Exchange, commissary and mail center.
The Kingdom of Spain remains a very important ally to the United States for projecting military power into the Mediterranean Sea, North Africa and Middle East while sharing significant security interests.
“We have had a busy deployment, with many schedule changes, and this served as a nice break for the crew,” Gilbertson said. “As they have all deployment, the entire Mason crew was exemplary on liberty, and we sincerely appreciate the support of the Rota ships, base and MWR personnel, and the superb assistance we received from the maintenance team. In all, it was a very successful visit!”
San Antonio is deployed as part of the Wasp Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the embarked 22nd MEU. Wasp ARG consists of San Antonio, amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41).