The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) completed its sixth Forward Deployed Naval Force (FDNF) patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations on May 7, 2018, returning to its forward-deployed location at Naval Station Rota, Spain.
Ross departed Rota Jan. 8, 2018, and in the course of its four-month patrol visited several countries, participated in joint exercises and hosted many U.S. and foreign diplomats in its mission to advance secrity and stability in the Europe and Africa regions.
“I couldn’t possibly be more proud of this crew,” said Cmdr. Bryan S. Gallo, commanding officer of Ross. “Over the course of these past four months, they’ve risen to the occaision and surpassed all expectations in the face of another arduous patrol.”
Gallo also said that in completing Ross’ patrol, the crew contributed to a bigger, more important mission.
“The completion of this patrol directly contributed to U.S. national secruity interests by operating forward, in both European and African regions, in support of the United States’ commitment to the stability of those regions,” said Gallo. “We always enjoy the opportunity to work alongside our NATO allies and partners in promoting the international security and stability we hold so dear.”
During Ross’ patrol, the ship visited several countries including Morocco, Italy, Albania, Romania, and the United Kingdom. In several of those countries, the Ross’ crew had the opportunity to provide the local public with tours of the 21-year-old warship to strengthen international partnerships and project a positive image of the U.S. Navy.
“Liberty is a mission, even if you are on duty,” said Ensign Nicholas McGrath, Ross’ electrical officer. “When we open the brow for civilians and our NATO counterparts, we act as ambassadors for our Navy. It’s important to demonstrate our goodwill and firm resolve whenever we pull into port.”
Of course, visiting foreign ports wouldn’t be complete without some liberty. Sailors had the opportunity to explore the six countries providing some much-needed and deserved rest and relaxation.
“My favorite port this patrol would have to be Scotland,” said Electronics Technician 2nd Class Kate Woods, a Ross crewmember. “I actually took leave so I could just go explore on my own. I spent some time in Glasgow and Edinburgh, but what really made the trip was my tour of the Highlands and the Isle of Skye. I did a ton of hiking, ate some incredible food and made some lifelong friends.”
Deployments and patrols aren’t just about liberty ports. Ross put in its share of work, too. From Feb. 16-28, Ross operated in the Black Sea consistent with the Montreux Convention and international law, completing several routine weapons exercises and conducting a ship tour for nearly 25 U.S. Embassy, Bucharest personnel and Romanian citizens.
From March 26-April 12, Ross participated in Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST). FOST is based out of naval bases in the United Kingdom and delivers operational training across all disciplines for the Royal Navy and other navies that wish to make use of its services.
“FOST was an opportunity to evaluate ourselves at all levels in our chain of command, and it also offered us areas of improvement that we can focus on moving forward,” said Chief Damage Controlman Christian Altamirano, leading chief petty officer for repair division aboard Ross. “We are better Sailors going through FOST. We will always have room for growth, no matter how long you have been doing this.”
To wrap up Ross’ patrol, the ship participated in exercise Joint Warrior 18-1, a U.K.-led and designed multinational exercise which helps allies and partners improve interoperability and prepare forces for combined operations. This iteration of Joint Warrior saw participation from 15 countries including the U.S. and U.K.
“Joint Warrior was another excellent opportunity for Ross to work with our NATO allies and European partners to learn how to work together to continue our commitment to regional security as well as to degrade and disrupt terrorist organizations,” said Cmdr. David Coles, Ross’ executive officer. “The presence we provide day in and day out, especially during exercises like Joint Warrior, is the most visible symbol of U.S. reassurance to those NATO allies and partners that we will continue to provide deterrance against potential adversaries.”
During Ross’ 120-day patrol, the crew completed more than their share of high-profile exercises. They also finished untold amounts of maintenance, flight operations, general quarters drills, and engineering drills. They completed flight deck emergency drills, gunnery and navigation exercises, anti-terrorism drills, rigid-hull inflatable boat operations, a tow exercise with another U.S. Navy ship, multiple sea and anchor details and made thousands of meals to fuel it all.
Ross (DDG 71), forward deployed to Rota, routinely conducts naval operations with allies and partners in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in order to advance security and stability in Europe.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.
MC3 Kyle Steckler