The port visit highlights an important relationship between NATO Allies and vital Black Sea partner Georgia. Georgia has been a consistent and steadfast partner in promoting peace and stability in the region.
Georgia plays a critical role in maintaining security and stability in the Black Sea and is a valuable NATO partner
Previously, USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) conducted a port visit in Batumi in February 2021. Legend-class Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton (WMSL-753) similarly stopped in Batumi in May 2021, after completing interoperability exercises with the Georgian Coast Guard.
"Georgia plays a critical role in maintaining security and stability in the Black Sea and is a valuable NATO partner," said Rear Adm. James Morley, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO's (STRIKFORNATO) Deputy Commander. "We look forward to further enhancing the relationship between NATO and our Georgian counterparts here in Batumi."
U.S. Sixth Fleet (SIXTHFLT) and STRIKFORNATO personnel are embarked on board Mount Whitney, operating as an integrated team. The interoperability between the commands, and their presence in the region, demonstrates the U.S. and NATO's commitment to the Black Sea and to working with Allies and partners to advance peace and prosperity in the region.
While in Batumi, the ships' crews will experience Georgian culture and traditions, while taking in the country's rich history and interacting with local citizens.
"This is my first ship and first deployment with the Navy and being able to visit Georgia is exciting," said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Melissa Mitchell, a Sailor assigned to Mount Whitney. "I have always wanted to go to Georgia and experience the culture and cuisine."
While steaming to Batumi, Mount Whitney and Porter showed the power of joint operations by participating in the U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA) led Operation Castle Forge. Castle Forge provides a dynamic, partnership-focused training opportunity in the Black Sea and demonstrates the joint force's combined ability to respond in times of crisis with a flexible, reassuring presence.
Additionally, both ships partook in bilateral ship maneuvering drills, communication testing, and simulated exercises with ships from the Bulgarian Navy and Turkish Navies and were escorted into Batumi by the Georgian Coast Guard. These maneuvers, executed in accordance with international law, highlight the professionalism and skillful seamanship of all nations involved.
BATUMI - The Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) prepares to enter the harbor in Batumi, Georgia. Mount Whitney, forward deployed to Gaeta, Italy, operates with a combined crew of Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa. Photo By: U.S. Navy MC2 Scott Barnes
USS Mount Whitney, forward deployed to Gaeta, Italy, operates with a combined crew of Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners in the SIXTHFLT area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.
STRIKFORNATO, headquartered on Oeiras, Portugal, is Supreme Allied Commander Europe's (SACEUR) premier, rapidly deployable and flexible, maritime power projection Headquarters, capable of planning and executing full spectrum joint maritime operations, primarily through the integration of U.S. naval and amphibious forces, in order to provide assurance, deterrence, and collective defence for the Alliance.
SIXTHFLT headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.