This port visit comes at the heels of the 28th U.S. Secretary of Defense’s visit to Gerald R. Ford during which the Secretary reiterated the importance of the GRFCSG’s presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and its contribution to regional deterrence.
“The Sailors of USS Gerald R. Ford are excited to return to the gorgeous island of Crete,” said Capt. Rick Burgess, Commanding Officer of Gerald R. Ford. “Greece and the United States have had a strong NATO alliance since 1952 and we enjoy and appreciate every opportunity to strengthen our maritime partnership as well as the rich history, food, and culture this area has to offer.”
This port visit is the capital ship’s seventh stop while deployed to the U.S. Naval Forces Europe (NAVEUR) area of operations. The U.S. Navy routinely operates with Greece, sending its largest aircraft carrier in the fleet to Souda Bay twice after it visited Piraeus in July.
The ship deployed from Norfolk, Virginia on May 2, and has been conducting training, exercises, and operations to support maritime stability and security in defense of U.S., Allied, and partner interests.
Gerald R. Ford is the U.S. Navy’s newest and most advanced aircraft carrier. As the first-in-class ship of Ford-class aircraft carriers, CVN 78 represents a generational leap in the U.S. Navy’s capacity to project power on a global scale. Ford-class aircraft carriers introduce 23 new technologies, including Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, Advanced Arresting Gear and Advanced Weapons Elevators. The new systems incorporated onto Ford-class ships are designed to deliver greater lethality, survivability and joint interoperability with a 20% smaller crew than a Nimitz-class carrier, paving the way forward for naval aviation.
The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG) is conducting a scheduled deployment in U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations, demonstrating the commitment and power projection capability of the Navy’s globally deployed force. The GRFCSG provides an inherently flexible naval force capable of deploying across combatant commands to meet emerging missions, deter potential adversaries, reassure allies and partners, enhance security and guarantee the free flow of global commerce. In total, the GRFCSG is deployed with more than 6,000 Sailors across all platforms ready to respond globally to combatant commander tasking.
The Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group consists of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 8, Destroyer Squadron 2, USS Normandy (CG 60), USS Ramage (DDG 61), USS McFaul (DDG 74), and USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116).
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations. Our persistent presence in Europe is in accordance with our international commitments and agreements and is necessary to reassure our Allies and Partners of our commitment to collective defense.