Friends, Family Embark USS Mount Whitney

Friends, Family Embark USS Mount Whitney

More than 400 friends and family members arrived on board the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) for a one-day Tiger Cruise in Gaeta, Italy, Aug. 5.

Participants in the event, also known as ‘tigers’, received a welcome aboard package upon arrival which included a welcome aboard letter, a schedule of events and general information about life aboard the ship.

Prior to getting underway, Capt. Craig Clapperton, Mount Whitney’s commanding officer addressed the crew over the ship’s announcing system. “I would like to thank all the family and friends for joining the crew of the world’s finest flagship Mount Whitney today,” said Clapperton. “It is a privilege for us to share with you what we do every day.”

Shortly after getting underway, Tiger Cruise participants were briefed on general safety and security procedures for the ship and received a basic overview of the mission and history of Mount Whitney.

After the briefs concluded, friends and family members were taken on a tour of Mount Whitney and were shown many static displays ranging from weapon systems to damage control equipment.

One of the kinetic events guests were treated to was an aerial demonstration by an MH-60S helicopter attached to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28. Along with deck landing qualification practice, the tigers were also shown the search and rescue capabilities of the helicopter.

“I thought the helicopter was cool” said Melania di Bonito. “It was amazing to see the Sailors in action and to see the search and rescue exercise.”

The tigers also had the chance to enjoy a steel beach picnic on Mount Whitney’s main deck, put on by the ship’s supply department.

“The picnic was great and the food was amazing,” said Erin Kleefisch, spouse of a Mount Whitney Sailor. “I appreciate the crew of Mount Whitney putting on this spread for us and it was fantastic having the 6th Fleet band perform for us throughout the day.”

Mount Whitney wrapped up the Tiger Cruise with a few remarks by Clapperton prior to returning to Gaeta.

Mount Whitney serves as the flagship for Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, Vice Adm. Frank C. Pandolfe. Pandolfe also serves as commander, Striking and Support Forces NATO; Joint Force Maritime Component commander, Naples; deputy commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa.


Press Release, August 7, 2013; Image: US Navy