The U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) returned to its homeport of Norfolk, Oct. 26, 2019, according to a Navy news release.
“Gonzalez completed a deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points,” the Navy message states.
The ship is returning home after a successful seven and a half-month deployment under U.S. 2nd, 5th, and 6th Fleets.
“Gonzalez’s performance during an independent Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) deployment was outstanding,” said Cmdr. Christopher Schwarz, commanding officer of Gonzalez. “All missions were met supporting regional and national goals.”
In U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operation (AOO), Gonzalez conducted BMD in the Arabian Gulf, participated in several joint exercises with partner nations, and ensured freedom of navigation through the Strait of Hormuz. Selected as one of the first ships at the stand-up of Operation Sentinel, Gonzalez conducted 20 merchant vessel escorts through the Strait of Hormuz, ensuring the free flow of commerce and freedom of navigation through a major waterway that is crucial to the global economy.
Gonzalez conducted maritime security operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet AOO, supporting the fleet’s mission of conducting the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, which are often conducted in concert with ally and interagency partners such as NATO in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.
Throughout the ship’s time at sea, Gonzalez participated in coalition exercises with Greece, France, Albania, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates, furthering cooperation with maritime partners.
The ship conducted port visits in nine countries during the deployment: Spain, Albania, Greece, Egypt, Oman, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Cyprus. During the port visit to Albania, Gonzalez celebrated Albania’s 10-year anniversary of joining the NATO Alliance.
“Our Sailors not only worked hard at sea, but they also worked hard ashore,” said Cmdr. Timothy Battles, executive officer of Gonzalez. “In addition to repairing and replenishing the ship, our Sailors took the time to conduct many community service projects in the countries we visited and we hosted a reception aboard the ship in Cyprus to further demonstrate American good-will.”
Gonzalez reports to U.S. 2nd Fleet until entering the maintenance phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan. U.S. 2nd Fleet exercises operational and administrative authorities over assigned ships, aircraft and landing forces on the East Coast and the North Atlantic. Additionally, it plans and conducts maritime, joint and combined operations as well as trains and recommends certification of combat ready naval forces for maritime employment and operations around the globe.