The U.S. Navy has announced that its Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Gravely (DDG 107), which is equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles, returns to Norfolk, Va. from long-term deployment.
USS Gravely has frequently been the subject of discussion in Russian state media after his deployment in Baltic Sea.
Russia’s broadcasters also were reporting that in response to USS Gravely deployment the designated forces and means of Russia’s Baltic Fleet have been mobilized to carry out continuous monitoring of the American ‘Tomahawk-Capable’ destroyer.
According to a news release put out by USS Gravely Public Affairs, guided missile destroyer returns to Norfolk, Va. following a seven-month deployment as flagship for Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1), August 27.
“Gravely Sailors had been put to the test time and time again preparing for the deployment,” said Cmdr. Michael O’Reilly, Gravely’s commanding officer. “The effort and skill demonstrated over the last two years is a testament to the strength and ability of the entire crew.”
Gravely deployed December 28th, 2018, assuming the duty as the flag ship of SNMG1 in the Navy’s U.S. 6th Fleet and NATO area of responsibility (AOR). SNMG1 is one of four standing maritime task groups composed of ships from various Allied countries. These task groups form the core maritime capabilities of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). They provide a continuous maritime capability to execute NATO missions across the spectrum of operations, demonstrate solidarity, and strengthen diplomatic and professional links among Allied naval forces.
After detaching from Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, Gravely proceeded north of the Arctic Circle to conduct operations in the Arctic waters off the coast of Greenland. “USS Gravely’s operations in the Arctic are a step toward further developing our Navy’s proficiencies operating in Arctic climates,” said Cmdr. Corey Odom, Gravely’s executive officer. “With proper safety measures in place, Gravely was able to garner lessons learned from operating in the Artic, to be implemented in future operations.”
“Regardless of the operating environment, Gravely has met every challenge with tenacity and professionalism,” said Master Chief Larae Baker, Gravely’s command master chief. “I feel very fortunate to be part of the Gravely crew.”
Embarked Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70, Detachment 1, flew missions almost daily utilizing two MH-60R Seahawk helicopters. The squadron completed more than 470 flight hours and 160 sorties, over a dozen cross-deck landings with other nation’s ships, and validated the first ever Lithuanian Maritime Firing Range during BALTOPS 19.
“The integration of the MH-60R is a complete force multiplier,” said Odom. “The capability and proficiency the pilots and their aircraft bring to anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, command and control, search and rescue, military lift and even medical missions, is astonishing.”
Notable events for Gravely included DYNAMIC GUARD, JOINT WARRIOR, BALTOPS, DYNAMIC MONGOOSE, and OPERATION NANOOK. Gravely conducted passing exercises with Polish, Finnish, Danish, and German forces, countless operational training program events, and maritime patrols in the Baltic, Laborador, and North seas, and the Baffin bay.
“The chance to embark a Staff and integrate with our NATO allies and partners was a unique and invaluable opportunity for the crew.” said O’Reilly. “The success of this deployment shows that the foundational principles upon which NATO was built remain strong and true – that our effectiveness as a force is enhanced by our partnerships and alliance with other nations.”
SNMG 1 conducted port visits to Denmark, Norway, Germany, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland, Estonia, Sweden, and Spain. Once detached, Gravely continued on to conduct visits in Portugal, Canada, and Greenland.
“I could not be more proud of this crew,” said O’Reilly. “They have performed brilliantly throughout every operation at sea, and represented the Navy and the United States exceptionally well while ashore.”