US carrier strike group and NATO conduct exercise in Mediterranean

Allied ships from the NATO Naval Striking and Support Forces Command and the US Sixth Fleet initiated a series of patrolling activities across the Mediterranean Sea, within the framework of Neptune Strike 2022. 

Neptune Strike is a long-planned effort. It will be carried out until 4 February, and features the deployment of the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier aircraft carrier, along with its carrier strike group and air wing.

Neptune Strike 2022 highlights the evolution of NATO’s ability to integrate the high-end maritime warfare capabilities of a carrier strike group to support the defense of the alliance. It includes the long-planned handover of command and control of the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (CSG) from SIXTHFLT to STRIKFORNATO and the wider alliance. 

Photo by: US Navy

“The capability of SIXTHFLT and STRIKFORNATO combined staffs to enable a handover of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group demonstrates the power and cohesiveness of our maritime forces and the NATO Alliance,” said Vice Adm. Gene Black, commander, SIXTHFLT and STRIKFORNATO. “NATO’s command and control of a CSG is the result of decades of Alliance maritime interoperability.”

Neptune Strike 2022 is the execution phase of a long series of activities known as Project Neptune, conceptualized in 2020. The activity focuses on overcoming the complexities of integrating command and control of a carrier strike group to NATO, according to the officials.

Previous events in the Neptune series include table-top exercises at SIXTHFLT headquarters in Naples, Italy, last year, and a STRIKFORNATO embark in 2021 aboard Mount Whitney called Neptune Challenge. 

Specifically, Neptune Challenge integrated the two staffs aboard Mount Whitney in the Black Sea and developed the necessary procedures enabling the successful start of Neptune Strike.

“Neptune Challenge gave our staffs an incredible opportunity to learn and grow together aboard our flagship, Mount Whitney,” said Rear Adm. James Morley, deputy commander, STRIKFORNATO.

“The lessons we took from Neptune Challenge led directly into our execution of Neptune Strike, and I look forward to watching this combined team work to command and control high-end forces in real time.”

SIXTHFLT, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance US national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.