Sep 12, 2022
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Cole (DDG 67) and USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) returned to Naval Station Norfolk after a nine-month deployment, Sept. 9, 2022.
Cole and Bainbridge, assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 28, which is commanded by Capt. Blair Guy, deployed with the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) in December 2021.
Bainbridge conducted operations in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe area of operations, employed by U.S. 6th Fleet, to defend U.S., allied and partner interests. Cole also operated in European waters in addition to several months in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, where the ship helped ensure maritime security and stability in the Middle East.
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During the deployment, the ships supported dual and tri-carrier operations as well as participated in multiple bi-lateral and multi-lateral training opportunities with the Israeli, British, Italian, Hellenic, Spanish, and French navies, among others.
While in U.S. 6th Fleet, Bainbridge participated in multiple international exercises and activities to include Neptune Strike 2022, Dynamic Manta, Phoenix Express, Mare Aperto, and Neptune Shield 2022 with forces from Croatia, Italy, Albania, Spain, France, and Turkey. The ship also supported tri-carrier operations with the French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R91) and Italian carrier ITS Cavour (C 550) carrier strike groups, highlighting Bainbridge’s diverse mission set and capabilities while underscoring the importance of interoperability and operational readiness.
“I’m incredibly proud of how well the crew performed during our extended deployment to U.S. 6th Fleet,” said Cmdr. James Hagerty, Bainbridge’s commanding officer. “Their efforts greatly strengthened NATO at a critical time for the Alliance.”
While in U.S. 5th Fleet, Cole participated in multinational exercises to include the International Maritime Exercise/Cutlass Express 2022, the largest maritime exercise in the Middle East with over 60 partner nations and international organizations, and Exercise Intrinsic Defender with the Israeli Navy.
Cole also conducted a flag verification boarding of a stateless fishing vessel transiting the Gulf of Oman along a known smuggling route. U.S. forces discovered 40 tons of urea fertilizer, a chemical compound with agricultural applications that is also known to be used as an explosive precursor. The U.S. Navy later transferred the fertilizer and vessel to Yemeni Coast Guard officials.
“This crew is unlike any I've ever seen,” said Cmdr. Jim Welsch, Cole’s commanding officer. “They conducted events across every major mission area while operating in both 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations, and the crew has delivered excellent results with every opportunity. I know that our Sailors' families back home are proud of our Determined Warriors.”
The crew was then called back to U.S 6th Fleet area of operations where Cole re-joined the strike group and participated in numerous multinational surface, subsurface, air defense and maneuverability exercises with the Italian and French navies.
Both Cole and Bainbridge proved to be an integral part of the HSTCSG during every phase of deployment.
“Our goal at the beginning of this deployment was to demonstrate our commitment to NATO and defend U.S. and partner interests in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility,” said Guy. “Through our professionalism and relentless pursuit of improving integration and interoperability with NATO and partner forces, I believe we demonstrated just how combat capable our combined forces can be.”
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), commanded by Capt. Gavin Duff, serves as the flagship of the HSTCSG; additional elements include the nine squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, commanded by Capt. Patrick Hourigan; the destroyers of DESRON 28, which also included USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), USS Gravely (DDG 107), USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98), and USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109); and the Ticonderoga class guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56), commanded by Capt. Christopher Marvin.
The strike group also participated in a Cooperative Deployment with the Royal Norwegian Navy’s Fridtjof-Nansen class frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310), who returned home to Norway in May.