Source: United States Navy
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Gravely (DDG 109) returned to Naval Station Norfolk after a regularly scheduled deployment, June 24.
Gravely is the first unit to return from the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, which deployed in December.
While deployed, U.S. 6th Fleet employed the ship to defend U.S., allied and partner interests, taking Gravely and her crew throughout a variety of European waters while providing a wealth of bilateral and multilateral training opportunities.
Gravely participated in exercises Neptune Strike 2022, Cold Response, Operation Songwright, Dynamic Manta, Neptune Shield 2022, and Hedgehog 22 with forces from Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom, highlighting Gravely’s diverse mission set and capabilities while underscoring the importance of interoperability and operational readiness.
“Exercises with our Allies and partners allowed for a more cohesive alliance and fluid operations,” said Cmdr. Hunter Washburn, Gravely’s commanding officer. “Operating with Allies and partners is paramount to further developing our communication and operational capabilities to ensure mission readiness at a moment’s notice.”
Gravely’s leadership hosted several distinguished visitors during port visits.
While in Klaipėda, Lithuania, Gravely hosted a tour and lunch reception with honored guests including the President of Lithuania Gitanas Nauseda, U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania Robert Gilchrist, U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Julie Fisher, and Minister of Defense for Lithuania Arvydas Anusauskas. Gravely hosted the U.S. Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski for a dinner reception in Gdynia, Poland.
The crew docked in Helsinki, Finland, along with dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44), French frigate FS Latouche-Tréville (D646) and German frigate FGS Sachsen (F 219) over Memorial Day weekend, bolstering relations with a key NATO partner and Allied maritime forces.
“It is always a blessing to engage with our Allied counterparts overseas in any capacity to showcase our enthusiasm and commitment towards our partnership,” said Cmdr. Brian Sánchez, Gravely’s executive officer. “It was an honor to receive distinguished guests and visitors aboard our good ship Gravely during foreign port visits as a demonstration of our gratitude and appreciation.”
Gravely also operated alongside the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, comprised of Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), dock landing ship Gunston Hall (LPD 44), and amphibious transport dock USS Arlington (LPD 24) with the embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
The ship proved to be an integral part of the HSTCSG during every phase of deployment.
“The professionalism and fortitude the Gravely has shown during this deployment has not gone unnoticed,” said Rear Adm. Paul Spedero, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 8. “The crew gained an invaluable amount of knowledge of the region during their operations on this deployment, and their relationship with our Allies and partner nations show just how impactful our strike group ships can be.”
The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) includes flagship USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75); the nine squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, commanded by Capt. Patrick Hourigan; the staff and guided-missile destroyers of DESRON 28, commanded by Capt. Todd Zenner, which include Gravely, USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), USS Cole (DDG 67), USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56), commanded by Capt. Christopher Marvin.
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