The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) had a unique holiday season, as ships from the group pulled into five ports across Europe in December 2021 and January 2022.
The multi-country port calls included the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), and Royal Norwegian Navy frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310) in Souda Bay, Greece; the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) in Piraeus, Greece; the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Gravely (DDG 107) in Aksasz, Turkey; the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) in Limassol, Cyprus; and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56) in Rota, Spain. The port visits provided the crews the chance to experience the local culture, celebrate the holidays, and strengthen the bond with European allies and partners.
“Our European allies were gracious hosts to the members of the Harry S. Truman Strike Group,” said Rear Adm. Curt Renshaw, commander, Carrier Strike Group Eight. “They opened up their cities to us, allowing us some much needed rest and providing our Sailors with a unique opportunity to experience the history and culture of our partners and allies in the region. For many of our Sailors, the chance to see other cultures and countries was one of the reasons they chose to enlist and we are grateful for this opportunity.”
Despite being away from their loved ones during the holiday season, Sailors embraced their Navy family, bringing holiday cheer to one another and ringing in the new year.
"It’s a challenge to be away from our families during the holidays, getting the opportunity to get off the ship and having a chance to call them makes the distance feel a little less painful," said Command Master Chief Karyn Sigurdsson, Cole’s Command Master Chief.
“The highlight of this port visit was experiencing the culture and history of Cyprus,” Sigurdsson added. “There were plenty of tours set up by MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation), where Sailors were able to enjoy the Cyprus cultural experience and learn the history of Limassol." During their time in port, Sailors throughout the strike group toured vineyards, hiked mountains, visited castles, shopped at the bazaars and enjoyed local cuisine.
For San Jacinto, being in port also served as an opportunity for shipboard maintenance, ensuring readiness for continued operations. Other ships of the HSTCSG sought to spread holiday cheer by giving back to the local communities they visited.
“Sailors from the Truman, Bainbridge, and NSA Souda Bay braved high winds and light rain in an effort to help preserve our environment during a beach clean-up at Stavros Beach,” noted Lt. Cmdr. Steven Hervey, Truman’s leading chaplain. “During the event, the team was able to remove a large amounts of rubber, metal and plastic trash from the important local landmark.”
"It was a good way to recharge from being on the ship,” said Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Kenny Zamor. “It is important to give back to communities that help us, so we did our best to give another blessing back."
Giving back to the community is only part of why these port visits are an integral part of the strike group’s presence in the region. While ashore, these Sailors had the opportunity to explore the countries they operate and partner with while at sea. It gives them the chance to explore local ruins, try the world famous dishes, engage with the shop owners of local businesses, and watch the New Year’s fireworks from foreign skies.
“This port visit demonstrated the unique opportunity for our Sailors to get some well-deserved liberty and strategically shows a U.S. presence in the Mediterranean," said Capt. Gavin Duff, Truman’s commanding officer. “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to NSA Souda Bay leadership and our Greek friends for the hospitality they showed us, making our entire team feel at home as we ushered in 2022.”
As the strike group heads back to sea, they remain committed to the U.S.-European strategic partnership which has been forged for many years and is built on a foundation of shared values, experiences and beliefs. The ships and their crews look forward to continued operations with allies and partners at sea and in port.
Elements of the strike group include the staff of Carrier Strike Group 8; flagship USS Harry S. Truman , commanded by Capt. Gavin Duff; the nine squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, commanded by Capt. Patrick Hourigan; the staff and guided-missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 28 commanded by Capt. Todd Zenner, which include: USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), USS Cole (DDG 67), USS Gravely (DDG 107) and USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109); the Royal Norwegian Navy’s Fridtjof-Nansen class frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310) deployed as part of the Cooperative Deployment Program; and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56), commanded by Capt. Christopher Marvin. The strike group is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to maintain maritime stability and security, and defend U.S., allied and partner interests in Europe and Africa.
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